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Crucial Land Records Could Be Lost Forever

Author: Raphael Chaskalson

I recently spent several weeks doing research in the Eastern Cape for a Masters dissertation. The research is centred on a land claim involving some 900 households and their descendants, who in the early 1980s were forcefully removed off 12,000 hectares of land in the former Transkei to make way for a sugar plantation. Although most of the research involved interviews and observation, I travelled to Mthatha to look for records from the former Transkei relevant to the project.


I’d been told by various researchers that there are serious issues with record keeping in the former Transkei. Until about 1963 (when the Transkei was granted ‘self-government’), archives are reasonably well kept and catalogued in a public library in the town’s centre. But records from after that date, I was told, are stored in the Botha Sigcau Building – now the regional seat of government in central Mthatha, named after an early 20th century paramount chief.


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