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SAHRC launches report on the challenges affecting land restitution

Amongst the many challenges identified in the Report of the SAHRC Investigative Hearing: Monitoring and Investigating the Systemic Challenges Affecting the Land Restitution Process in South Africa are several that have to do directly with records and record keeping:

• In some cases, such as Sophiatown, the records of valuations conducted at the time of the dispossessions could not be traced. This means that the Commission for Restitution of Land Rights has had to devise an alternative method of calculating loss and compensation.

• In many cases where land has been claimed by communities, rather than individuals, it is a challenge to verify claimants. There are few records that indicate who were members of which community.

• The Department of Public Works is not entirely certain about what land belongs to the State, because, according to the Auditor General of South Africa there is not complete record of the State’s assets.

• Conflicting claims are difficult to resolve because individuals and communities draw on different experts, sources and records.

• Research is a major challenge - access to active records and government archives needs to be addressed more proactively.

• Claims have been recorded and captured by the Commission in different ways over time and documents and files have been lost.

The challenges identified by the SAHRC impact directly on the lives of citizens and compromise the effective work of government and the lives of citizens.

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