The legacy of the 1913 Land Act was still with South Africa and so it is the duty of the state to implement effective redress through land restitution, Western Cape premier Helen Zille said on Monday.
“This will never remove or fully compensate for the pain suffered but it is a major step towards the restoration of dignity,” Zille said in a speech prepared for delivery in Cape Town.
“Effective delivery enables our society to own our future and it creates opportunities for active citizens to create the future of their design.”
Zille was speaking at the commemoration of the Natives Land Act of 1913.
She said it was critical to fulfil the redress and reconciliation mandates and that redress enabled society to honour the good in the past and acknowledge the bad.
There would be challenges in implementing land restitution and it required a balancing of different interests.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution and each case has to processed in its own context,” Zille said.
She said whenever laws and policies were introduced in the past there had always been people who were willing to stand up and raise their voices and the 1913 Land Act compelled a generation of anti-apartheid activists.
History had shown that “evil triggers a backlash from good”, she said.
“Wherever injustice and oppression have reared their ugly heads, they have inspired resistance and protest to challenge it.
“The reason for this backlash from good against evil is not just because principles and values like freedom and justice are violated, but because human lives are deeply affected.”
Speaking at the same event, Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille said the city was playing its part in ensuring redress and reconciliation took place to ensure land reform happened.
“In the value chain of restitution, the City of Cape Town plays its part to ensure that the Land Claims Commission is in a position to conduct its social function with those waiting for justice,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery.
“And most significantly, land restitution is featured as an objective in our strategic blueprint for the city, the Integrated Development Plan (IDP), unlike other cities.”
She said her career had been focused on fighting to address the “imbalances of history” but that it was also a personal fight for her as she remembered how her grandmother was forced to move because of the Group Areas Act.
“Our mission is to ensure that everyone has a stake in Cape Town.
“It’s why we are working hard to build a caring and inclusive city. And to build that future, we must ensure that we face up to our history, as painful as it is,” De Lille said. – Sapa