Cape Town airport faces land claim

Family members seeking compensation believe they have been cheated

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photo of family members protesting
Braaf family members protesting over their claim to a portion of the Cape Town International airport land. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

It’s been 20 years since the Braaf family first submitted their claim to a portion of the Cape Town International Airport land. Some family members now strongly believe that they have been “cheated”.

Adam Braaf, 74, and the oldest surviving member of the family, said his family was forcibly removed from the land where the airport now stands by the apartheid government. “We were resettled in Elsies River. The spaces we are occupying [now] compared to what my parents used to have is very small. They used to breed cattle and other animals at the airport area, but now we cannot do that.”

Last month about 40 Braaf family members picketed along Borcherds Quarry Road over the land claim lodged in the 1990s. They say only a few relatives were compensated for the claim.

In documents seen by GroundUp, the Western Cape Land Claims Commission appears to have muddled through the claim, unsure of its validity.

Two of the Braaf siblings submitted separate claims for two pieces of land. In the original claim factors such as the erf number and street address did not match land in the airport area.

Braaf, a pensioner, said he worked as a foreman for private planes at the airport for eight years before going into the painting business.

Marisha Kannemeyer, a family member who has been spearheading their campaign, said that her great grandfather was forcibly removed from the land by the apartheid government in the 1940s. She said relatives currently live in Delft, Klipfontein and Belhar.

She said the land claim was settled on 21 January 2011 but that only one part of the family received the R333,867 payout. Out of the 15 people who shared the money, all but one member of the family received under R20,000 each. The rest of the family received nothing from the Commission.

In 2016, Kannemeyer said she went to the Commission’s offices in Cape Town and asked to see the file. “I was surprised to see all the mistakes,” she said.

In a letter to David Smit, the Director of Restitution at the regional commission earlier this year, Kannemeyer wrote that the Commission had failed to make calls to the claimants, filed incomplete forms without asking the claimants for more information and had lost files.

In 2008, Blessing Mphela the then Acting Chief Land Claims Commissioner wrote to Beverley Jansen the then Regional Land Claims Commissioner, regarding the Braaf’s claim. He said: “Apparently the claim was being investigated up to a point where an offer [for about R300,000] was made, according to the claimant. Certainly an offer can only be made on the basis of a valid claim. I need to be clarified on the purpose of further investigation when the claim was already at the point where offers were being made.”

The family have said that the smallest of the two pieces of land they claimed for was valued at R270,000.

Kannemeyer said that her great grandfather owned a piece of land almost four times the size of the land that part of the family were compensated for.

The Commission has not responded to questions by GroundUp. The Deputy Director of Communications at the Western Cape Department of Rural Development and Land Reform Vuyani Nkasayi said that he “unfortunately doesn’t have any information” on the land claim. This is despite the head of the the Director of Restitution at the Western Cape Commission having previously been personally involved in the land claim.

Nkasayi said that they would wait until the article was published and “take it from there”.

TOPICS:  Housing Land

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