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Coastal Land Rights finally restored
The West Coast of South Africa is an area where numerous coastal communities have been dispossessed of their land, and therefore their livelihood. Diamond mining, exploitative Apartheid legislation, and sometimes downright greed has meant that scores o communities and thousands of people have lost ancestral lands and their access to marine and other coastal resources.
Today I would like to share the good news that one of the numerous cases have finally been corrected after an 18 year battle. A West Coast community has finally had their land restored to them after an 18 year tussle with the state. The Ebenhaeser community lodged a restitution claim in 1996 on land near Vredendal from which they were forcibly removed under apartheid laws. White farmers moved into the fertile lands along the banks of the Olifants River and the local community was displaced to margin lands in the drier hills.
More than 23,000 hectares of land has now been handed back to the community over to the community today. The claim has been valued at more than R360 million.
In South Africa many successful land restitution cases did not work out, often because of lack of proper planning and aftercare. In this case a Community Development and Land Acquisition Plan (CDLAP) was first prepared by EcoAfrica and Phuhlisani who worked hand in hand with the local community, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and other authorities, as well as the white farmers. The area is a very important coastal area with an estuary of high importance, and these environmental aspects have been thoroughly taken into account in the CDLAP. Hopefully we will be soon witnessing a very successful land restitution project.