Judgment reserved in Hilton College land case
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.