GEORGE NEWS - A group of land claimants who have been battling for more than a decade to access their original claim documents at the Regional Land Claims Commission have now also been unsuccessful in appealing to the Public Protector of South Africa (PPSA).
The group filed a claim in 1997 for Hansmoeskraal outside Pacaltsdorp. They are seeking compensation and land, being descendants of families who were farmers in the Hansmoeskraal area, according to Hayley Jacobsen, the group spokesperson who lives in Cape Town.
They allege that officials of the commission muddled up their claim and to cover this up, documentary evidence that the group has been trying to obtain is being deliberately withheld.
Repeated petitions to the George office of the PPSA and then an investigation by the PPSA Western Cape provincial office in 2016 brought them nowhere. Their appeal to the national public protector herself, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has now also been rejected. They were informed early in July that after the provincial office's investigation record was considered by an executive manager of the PPSA, it was found that there was no basis on which the provincial public protector's investigation could be reviewed.
The claim was apparently first submitted in 1997 by the late Freddie Arries, in life chairman of the Pacaltsdorp Kleinboerevereniging. In subsequent years, conflicting information regarding the validity of the application was provided to the claimants by commission officials, who initially indicated (in writing) that the claim had been received and was to be investigated further, but later denied that a claim had ever been submitted.
The George Herald is in possession of a written statement of an official that confirmed that a claim for Hansmoeskraal had indeed been submitted as well as a document from which it can be deducted that the RLCC failed to gazette the claim.
Commenting on the PPSA's decision, Jacobsen said, "It is an unjust decision in view of all the documentary evidence and of the fact that the PP does not want to take the decision to act against the Land Claims Commission by confiscating our claim form. Her action is unconstitutional. Our evidence overturns her decision to dismiss our matter. 1 025 days ago, an advocate from the PP's head-office informed us that our application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Bill (Paia) was attended to and that we will be advised of the outcome within the time frame provided in the bill (30 days). The PP's office is in contravention of our Paia application by 995 days, an application made by us at the recommendation by her office."
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