On Saturday, 11 December 2021 the Vaalplaas community of Paternoster received their long-awaited title deed handover.
The Vaalplaas land claimants tell a story of a series of injustices. The systematic dispossession of their rights and the land settled on by their ancestors. Alienation from their rights to harvest marine resources along the coast. A harsh, exploitative employment relationship, of being forced to vacate their homes through a combination of subtle pressure as well the violence of a forced eviction by police. Their lack of access to adequate legal representation and then their neglect by a state bureaucracy that failed to meet their need for information, failed to respond timeously, then subsequently informed them that their claim had no merit.
For 23 years, the Vaalplaas community have been fighting to reclaim their land that was taken from them in an apartheid era style. Masifundise had supported them in their struggle.
Vaalplaas is a fishing community, having lost their land meant their access to the sea was taken away and this threatened their traditional livelihoods as they depend on natural marine resources for an income.
In 1998, the Vaalplaas Community lodged a claim with the Regional Land Claims Commission on behalf of 41 families who were the former residents of the dispossessed communal land. In 2021, justice has finally been served when their land was returned by the minister of Agriculture, Land reform and Rural development.
It was an emotional event filled with joy. Minister Thoko Didiza handed the title deed over to Communal Property Association (CPA) of Vaalplaas Chairperson, Mr Peter Coraizen.
“Those of you who lived through fishing, when no more having the access to the natural resources that fed you as a community. So you must be the defenders of your rights that you are receiving today.” said Minister Didiza.
In victory, the Vaalplaas community can now say, “Ons Grond, Ons Erfenis, Ons Reg”
Our land, Our Heritage, Our Right.