printable versionPrint this page

Riemvasmaak Community Land Settlement

Category: Policy/Strategy
Date: 11 February 1994
Sub Category:Policy/Strategy (South Africa)
Location:Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa
Riemvasmaak is composed of approx. 74,563ha and is located 160km from Upington in the Northern Cape Province. It borders Namibia to the west, the Orange River to the south and the Kalahari desert to the north (WWF).
Summary Information:
The Riemvasmaak Community Land Settlement was one of the first instances of land restitution following South Africa's 1994 democratic elections. In South Africa, the right to land restitution for land alienated due to racially discriminatory laws or practices is one that has constitutional protection, however the Riemvasmaak Community Land Settlement occurred prior to the promulgation of both the Restitution of Land Rights Act 1994 and the new South African Constitution, 1996. It occurred pursuant to a process overseen by the Commission on Land Allocation, which was set up in 1991 by the De Klerk government to allocate unoccupied state land to those who had been forceably removed from their land (Cousins).
Detailed Information:
The Riemvasmaak Community, composed of Xhosa, Nama and 'Coloured' peoples, had been forcibly removed from their land in 1973-1974 under apartheid-era policies. Around 700 families were relocated from the Riemvasmaak area to Namibia to make way for the South African Defence Force (SADF), and later the Augrabies Falls National Park, administered by South African National Parks (Mckenzie). As a consequence of its use by the SADF, the land still contained live explosives at the time of the handback (Damarah).

According to Mckenzie, the process of land restitution was a difficult one, in particular because it occurred so soon after establishment of democratic rule when the roles of the national and provincial governments had yet to be clearly established. The Riemvasmaakers had originally approached then-President De Klerk in 1990 on the issue of land restitution; the Department of Land Affairs announced the return of the land to the Riemvasmaakers in February 1994. By June 1995, 96 families had returned to Riemvasmaak. Derek Hanekom, then Minister for Land Affairs, said that the 'Riemvasmaak case held political lessons for a free, democratic South Africa' (Damarah).

In 2002, Riemvasmaakers received the deeds to the plots of land that had been restored to them (Green Kalahari).

Related Entries

Organisation
  • Department of Land Affairs (South Africa)
  • Legislation
  • Restitution of Land Rights Act 1994
  • Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996
  • Interim Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1994
  • People
  • Riemvasmaak Community
  • Policy/Strategy
  • Apartheid

  • References

    General Reference
    Jacklyn Cock and Penny Mckenzie (Eds) (1998) From Defence to Development: Redirecting Military Resources in South Africa Chapter 4 "Reclaiming the Land: A Case Study of Riemvasmaak"
    Francie Lund Agenda Vol. 42 (1999) Remaking community at Riemvasmaak
    Green Kalahari website Riemvasmaak - Background
    Article
    Karel Damarah Democracy in Action Volume 8, No. 4 Restoration of Riemvasmaak ends the heartbreaking time
    Fact Sheet
    World Wildlife Fund Economic Change, Poverty and the Environment: South Africa
    Media Release
    African National Congress (23 July 1993) Joint press statement issued by the Western Cape and Northern Cape Regions of the ANC
    Newspaper Article
    Ben Cousins Mail & Guardian (26 November 2004) Grounding democracy: the politics of land in post-apartheid South Africa

    Glossary

    Policy/Strategy (South Africa)

    Google
    Top of page

    Was this useful? Click here to fill in the ATNS survey