Assassination a consequence of land reform failure – Annette Steyn

DA MP says Takiyana and Nontembiso April were gunned down at their farm

Assassination of land activists a consequence of land reform failure by the ANC

11 December 2020

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is raising national alarm over a growing trend where land activists are becoming victims of assassination due to years of unresolved land disputes and a lethargic approach to land reform by the ANC government.

This week, the country heard the gruesome story of a land activist couple in the Eastern Cape, Takiyana and Nontembiso April, who were gunned down at their farm in the Sakhisizwe municipal area. In October, well known land activist Fikile Ntshangase was shot and killed in her home in Ophondweni, KwaZulu Natal.

The DA condemns these acts of violence in the strongest terms and extends its condolences to the victim’s families and friends.

The deaths of innocent land activists, fighting to assert their land rights, is a consequence of the ANC’s failure to expedite the land reform process since 1994. Communities have now been condemned to a permanent state of land disputes, often with devastating consequences as was the case with the recent assassinations. The land reform leadership vacuum created by the ANC has given rise to vigilantes who now want to assert control over disputed land through murder.

For years, the April family had fought for their rights to land but due to unfulfilled promises they were constantly marginalised and pitted against fellow farmers living in adjacent farms. Similarly, Fikile’s lifelong fight to assert her customary land rights over commercial mining resulted in her losing her life. Their deaths shouldn’t have happened had the ANC listened to their pleas for help in securing just and equitable access to land.

Instead of expediting access to land for marginalised communities, the ANC is busy pursuing an inconsequential sideshow to amend section 25 of the Constitution. The ANC would rather shift the blame to the Constitution than take responsibility for having failed millions of landless South Africans who live on the economic periphery.

The ANC government now has an urgent obligation to expedite ongoing land ownership disputes to prevent further loss of lives. In one of these cases, we call upon Minister Thoko Didiza to immediately take steps to address the decades long fight for access to land for the Gwatyu community in the Eastern Cape. Landless South Africans are crying out for leadership not empty platitudes.

Issued by Annette Steyn, DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, 11 December 2020