Recently we reported on the court victory of farmer David Rakgase to obtain ownership of the farm that he had been struggling to gain ownership of.

In 2002, the State offered to sell him the farm which he had been leasing since 1991. Rakgase then became a beneficiary of the government’s Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) which allowed black farmers to purchase the properties they were leasing. The government, however, failed to transfer the property after he had agreed to buy it.

The Court ordered the Department to sell the land to Rakgase at the price agreed in 2003. The purchase price agreed upon with the government in 2002 was R1.2m.

Although the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform decided initially to appeal, soon afterwards decided not to.

Now part of the 3 000-hectare farm in Northam has been illegally occupied.

More than 40 shacks have been built on the landt and the occupiers have put padlocks on the gate that leads to the part of the farm they’re on. The occupiers have no intention to leave the property.

Several pleas to the government for help to remove the occupiers have fallen on deaf ears. Rakgase believes the illegal occupation is another strategy to force him out of the property.

“This came as the legal battle with land authorities intensified with a court case. I contacted the government several times but there was no help.

“I believe they are paying rent to someone else. The government is not helping despite that I continue to pay my rental to it,” Rakgase said.

 Rakgase says that he never defaulted on rental in nearly 30 years of tenancy. “The rental fee that I’ve paid all these past years, without default, is more than the cost price of the farm agreed upon in 2003. There was a time I continued to pay rent for three years without a lease.

 Black farmers have frequently been the victims of land invasions, stock theft and arson or worse to try to force them off the land. The police notoriously do nothing and usually a political or nduna benefit. It isn’t clear whether this is theft, the ideology of state ownership or both.