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Reclaiming the soil of the past

Author: Sizwe Sama Yende

Mobile offices will travel from town to town to help people who missed the chance to lodge land-restitution claims before the December 31 1998 cut-off date. 

Phuthaditjhaba is the first stop on the long road ahead. The buses, which will stay here for three weeks, even have names: Gemsbok has been assigned to the Free State. It is emblazoned with the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights’ insignia. 

Last Saturday morning, Paulinah Hadebe (74) arrived alone while Fusi Mofokeng (59) was with his sister, Selina (70), and brothers Botiki (64) and Mikgala (57). 

They almost missed out on lodging their claims because they did not know where to go until Nkwinti’s department came up with a smart solution: if the people can’t reach the office, bring the office to the people. 

The government’s countryside initiative means people such as the Hadebes and Mofokengs will no longer have to travel long distances to provincial Land Claims Commission offices – or miss out again because they simply don’t know what to do. 

Inside, each bus is a mini office with banks of computers and four officials capturing information. 

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