Cabinet has approved the use of equitable redress as the only option for the settlement of outstanding land claims in the Kruger National Park (KNP). The Directors-General of the departments of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) and Land Affairs (DLA) jointly informed the affected community leaders of the claimants in Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces on 23 January 2009 of the cabinet decision taken on 3 December 2008.
The decision not to restore the land rights in the Kruger National Park, which is considered a national and international asset, was taken after careful consideration and is intended to strike a balance between the rights of the claimant communities and the interests of society as a whole.
Equitable redress refers to the awarding of alternative land and/or financial compensation in settlement of a valid land claim lodged against the State by an individual or a community. The State will retain title to the land within this national park.
The equitable redress option proposed by the State includes the awarding of financial compensation and or alternative land, possibly coupled with other benefits for claimant communities which may include: guaranteed access to ancestral and traditional sites and graves on agreed calendar days for traditional and ritual commemorations; acknowledgement of the history of communities when naming facilities and camps, environmental education and learning for children and youth; job opportunities; preferential procurement opportunities; introduction of a "community levy" to be levied on all visitors to be channelled into a Community Trust Fund to fund future community development projects; broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) opportunities and equity in commercial concessions. The additional benefits will be finalised subject to further engagement with the affected claimants.
The DLA will conduct a series of meetings with the community leaders in collaboration with DEAT and South African National Parks (SANParks) to address issues regarding support and the proposed benefit packages offered as part of the settlement agreement.
The community leaders welcomed the discussion with government as well as the proposed broad beneficiation package that could be available once the claims are settled. A number of community leaders however indicated that they are not in agreement with the non restoration of title to the successful claimants.
It was agreed that further consultation will take place with all the affected communities on the implications of the Cabinet decision. The Department of Land Affairs will lead this process with attendance of all the consultations by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and SANParks.
Mr Ishaam Abader
Deputy Director General: Corporate Affairs
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT)
Tel: 012 310 3391
Fax: 012 322 1936
Cell: 083 280 4131
Department of Land Affairs (DLA)
Ms Pulane Molefe
Communication Manager: Commission on Restitution of Land Rights
Tel: 012 312 8452
Cell: 079 495 8387
Fax: 012 321 0428
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)