Judg­ment re­served in Hil­ton Col­lege land case

Weekend Witness - - News -

THE Con­sti­tu­tional Court this week re­served judg­ment in an ap­pli­ca­tion by the Hil­ton Col­lege labour ten­ants.

On Thurs­day, the Le­gal Re­sources Cen­tre (LRC) and the As­so­ci­a­tion for Ru­ral Ad­vance­ment (Afra) pre­sented ar­gu­ments to the coun­try’s top court for the re­in­state­ment of a Land Claims Court (LCC) or­der to ap­point a spe­cial mas­ter to over­see claims by fam­i­lies who laboured on farms in lieu of pay­ments and per­mis­sion for them to live on a por­tion of the farm.

The por­tion of land at Hil­ton Col­lege has been the sub­ject of a land claim by labour ten­ants for more than 22 years.

Siyabonga Sit­hole, pro­gramme co-or­di­na­tor at Afra, told Week­end Wit­ness yes­ter­day that they were con­fi­dent of a “favourable judg­ment”.

“It was good to hear the court talk about the time that has lapsed since the en­act­ment of the Labour Ten­ants Act in 1996 and how that has prej­u­diced claimants who have lodged from 1996 up un­til 2001.”

Sit­hole said re­marks made by jus­tices dur­ing the hear­ing give them con­fi­dence that they will agree for a spe­cial mas­ter to be ap­pointed.

“We will have to wait for judg­ment, but we are very con­fi­dent that the out­come will be a cel­e­bra­tory one for the peo­ple of Hil­ton,” he said.

In 2016, the LCC found the De­part­ment of Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and land re­form to be in con­tempt of nu­mer­ous court or­ders and in con­tra­ven­tion of the pro­vi­sions of the Labour Ten­ants Act of 1996, and found in favour of the labour ten­ants’ ap­pli­ca­tion to have a spe­cial mas­ter ap­pointed to over­see the pro­cess­ing of labour tenant claims — about 11 000 of which re­main in­com­plete since the clos­ing date in 2001.

How­ever, the de­part­ment op­posed the ap­point­ment of a spe­cial mas­ter, and in 2018 the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) set aside the LCC’s judge­ment in favour of the ap­point­ment of a spe­cial court mas­ter. — WWR.

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