Govt in contempt of Court – Annette Steyn

DA MP says dept is dragging its feet in selling land to Limpopo farmer

Government in contempt of Court as it drags its feet in selling land to Limpopo farmer

19 November 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) is dragging its feet in selling Nooitgedacht farm in Limpopo, to Mr. David Rakgase. This, despite a landmark North Gauteng High Court judgment in September compelling the State to sell the farm to Mr. Rakgase, who has been farming Nooitgedacht for almost 30 years.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has been informed that the Department has failed to make any contact with Mr. Rakgase regarding his purchasing of the farm and that his lawyers have now written to the Department as their inaction is in contempt of the Court.

We are of the view that the Department never had any intention of selling the farm to Mr. Rakgase and is now seemingly attempting to further frustrate the process despite the High Court judgment. The DA has no doubt that the Department will attempt to blame the delay on bureaucratic processes in order to thwart Mr. Rakgase’s attempts to seek justice.

Mr. Rakgase has been struggling to buy his farm for more than 16 years. In 2002, he was offered the option of buying the farm as a beneficiary of the now discontinued Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) programme, however, he was left with no choice but to take the Department to court after it emerged that it would not honour its promise to sell the farm.

The Court vindicated Mr. Rakgase and other emerging black farmers, last month, when it found that the State breached its constitutional duties in its handling of Mr. Rakgase’s attempts to buy the farm he had successfully worked for nearly 30 years.

By dragging its feet in the Rakgase-matter, the ANC Government again proves that it does not support emerging black farmers’ right to own the land but that their intention is to be the sole custodians of the land by keeping these farmers in their control as lifelong tenant farmers.

This was evident in the Department’s initial attempts to appeal the High Court judgment but later withdrew the challenge due to pressure from the public and the DA. Instead of playing with the emotions of Mr. Rakgase, the DA implores upon the DALRRD to do the right thing and immediately expedite the process of this deserving farmer building his legacy for future generations.

Land reform is a moral imperative and the DA will not waiver in holding the Department to account for failing Mr. Rakgase.

Issued by Annette Steyn, DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, 19 November 2019