A Report on the Vaalplaas Community Land Claim, Paternoster, West Coast, 2003


This report presents the story of the Vaalplaas Land Claim, documenting the historical background and life stories of the Vaalplaas land claimants living in Paternoster, a small historical fishing village on the West Coast of the Western Cape. In 1997 a group of community members, comprising 34 households, began the process of applying for restitution of their rights to a portion of land in the village, commonly referred to as Vaalplaas.
The story reflects the stark reality of a system of racial, class and gendered oppression along the western coast of this country.  The experiences of this small community mirror the larger experiences of many indigenous coastal dwellers in this country who have gradually been alienated from their direct access to the sea and land.

The report aims to provide an overview of the key issues emerging from both the unfolding of the process of this land claim, as well as the historical experiences of this community with the intention of supporting their claim for a just settlement to both the  rights and interests that are contested in this case.   The historical research conducted for the purposes of this report shows the layered nature of the property relations of Vaalplaas.  It is clear that the current claimants and their ancestors were long-term occupiers whose tenure relations were embedded in the complex social relations of the time. These social relations were constituted through a range of over-lapping, at times contradictory rights and obligations, weaving a fine net with strands of labour, residential, sexual and relational interests.