Land Reform

Key Dimensions Menu

The CMDA's Land Department and its counterparts in the Department of Local Government & Housing and the Estates Department of the South Central Local Council is responsible for ensuring that all transactions which affect land in the project area are properly co-ordinated and controlled. 

This involves attending to applications for the purchase of land, controlling the programme for relocation of residents living on public sites, protecting the land from invasions, co-ordinating surveying, managinf the complex land claims process and overseeing the allocation and sale of land.

Pre-Apartheid building
(Click to enlarge)

Cato Crest Collector Roads
(Click to enlarge)

Land Assembly/Alienation
The sale and transfer of land with or without top structures is the final phase which takes place in any new township or urban renewal project.  Cato Manor is no different except that the project area is so vast that it has been necessary to divide the area into precincts and prioritise the development. 

Thus one may find that in one precinct the development process is virtually complete in that the following activities have been finalised: land claims, planning, installation of infrastructure, survey, registration of land consolidation and the opening of a township register, whereas in another precinct only one or two of these activities have received attention.

During the period under review much attention was devoted to the consolidation of land in the Wiggins area.  Towards the end of 1996 the Department of Local Government and Housing and the State Attorney had registered a major consolidation comprising 293 component properties covering 95 hectares of land within Wiggins.

It was left to the CMDA as agent of the Provincial Housing Development Board to complete the consolidation process and this was achieved by registering three further consolidations  of 22 properties, 204 properties and 181 properties during June, August and November 1997 respectively. 

It was extremely important that these consolidations were registered as it facilitated the registration of new layout plans and the opening of the relevant township registers.  Unless this process had been completed, transfers of the new erven to the prospective purchasers could not be effected.

Township Establishment
A very important aspect in the development of Cato Manor is the fact that much of the land in the project area has been formally designated as land for less formal settlement in terms of the Less Formal Township Establishement Act No 113/1991.  The CMDA was instrumental in having an additional two areas designated during 1997, namely the Cato Crest precinct and Lot 1876 in Chesterville Extension and is presently attending to yet another application for Jamaica, also in Chesterville Extension.  The fact that these areas have been so designated facilitates far quicker re-planning as all provincial planning legislation is superseded by this act.

The sale of sites with top structures totalled 1700 during 1997 and 1998.  Transfer to the new owners has been accomplished for 25% of these sales.

The Cato Manor Allocations Committee was established duirng 1997 and comprises representatives of the Department of Local Government and Housing, The South Central Local Council and the CMDA.  The committee's primary function is to approve the alienation of sites owned by the Provincial Housing Development Board in the project area.  At the close of 1998 the committee had met on 12 occasions and had approved the sale of a variety of sites including a pump station site in Cato Crest, a site for teachers' empowerment project, the Bellair Road Clinic site, an administrative support centre, a site for the Salvation Army (a land exchange) and a school site.  The number of cases to be submitted to this committee is expected to increase substantially in the months ahead.

Land Claims
An historic settlement was reached in the land claims dispute between over 400 former residents of Cato Manor, who were dispossessed of their land in terms of apartheid legislation, and the local councils responsible for develoing the area.  The Cato Manor Land Claims Settlement Agreement, which was signed in May 1997, brought to an end a protracted court case and months of negotiations between the land claimants on the one hand and the local government and CMDA on the other.  Parties to the Agreement, which was made an order of the Land Claims Court, include the Regional Land Claims Commission (RLCC), the Department of Land Affairs (DLA), the North Central, South Central and Inner West Local Councils and 441 claimants.

The Agreement is the first of its kind in the country and has allowed the Cato Manor project to proceed whilst claims are being resolved.  Restitution options for claimants have been established and include financial compensation, alternative land in Cato Manor and, where feasible, restoration of the original land holding.  A complex process to settle the claims was established but can be summarised very simply as follows:

The CMDA is responsible for producing a "feasibility report" for every property which has been claimed.  Copies of these reports are submitted to the RLCC and to the claimants and/or their attorneys.  A "feasibility report" contains details as to land ownership, exisitng development, structure plan implications, affected projects in the work programme, any other relevant information and concludes whether it is feasible or not to restore the property.  In each case where it concludes that it is not feasible to restore, the Regional Land Claims Commissioner is obliged to initiate a mediation process.  Should the mediation process not result in agreement being reached between the parties, the matter proceeds to arbitration for a final decision.

The majority of the claimants, the CMDA, the RLCC and the DLA have been working hard an continuously to make the settlement agreement work.  Although slower than hoped, substantial progress has been achieved during 1998 as reflected by the statistics in the table below:

During 1998 a group of claimants, subsequent to the signing of the Settlement Agreement, elected to  bring an application before the Land Claims Court for an interdict to stop development on certain areas of the project.  The application was dismissed with costs by the Court.

Land Claims

A series of challenges around land issues were successfully dealt with between 1993 and 1997 including substantial achievements in combating land invasions and resolving matters associated with the restoration of land rights. In 1994 a Commission on Restitution of Land Rights and a Land Claims Court were established to investigate and address the claims of people dispossessed of land under apartheid. A total of 5 722 land claims were received by the Commission in respect of properties in Cato Manor. Due to the time that would have been needed to validate and settle this volume of claims, a strategy aimed at addressing legitimate claims, whilst allowing the development to proceed, had to be developed. Accordingly, the CMDA placed an application before the Land Claims Court in terms of Section 34 of the Restitution of Land Rights Act No. 22 of 1994, requesting, in the interests of the holistic and sustainable development of Cato Manor, that land not be restored to individual claimants and that other forms of redress such as alternative land or financial compensation be used. Over 400 former residents opposed the Application. Following a protracted court case and months of negotiations, the historic Land Claims Settlement Agreement, the first of its kind in South Africa, was signed in May 1997, enabling the development to proceed whilst claims were being resolved. Restitution options for claimants included financial compensation, alternative land in Cato Manor and, where feasible, restoration of the original land holding.

The position at the end of 2002 in respect of Cato Manor land claims which have been processed in terms of the Section 34 Settlement Agreement is as follows:

• 302 claims were settled on the basis of ‘financial compensation’.
• 28 claims were settled on the basis that the claimants would be offered alternative land.
• 22 claims were settled on the basis that the properties concerned are ‘restorable’.
• 70 claims included properties which are situated outside the Section 34 boundary and were accordingly not processed any further in terms of the Agreement.
• Three claims were rejected by the Regional Land Claims Commission.
• Seven claims were withdrawn by the claimants.
• 13 claims which proceeded to Arbitration were found to be ‘not feasible to restore’ by the Arbitration Panel.

The relocation of informal households located in the way of key infrastructural projects began in earnest in the latter part of 1996.  The rapid and successful implementation of this exercise was essential to ensure that the relevant projects could proceed and that the allocated funding would be spent within the time constraints set in the respective business plans.

The CMDA has already successfully created housing opportunities for more than 200 families who have had to move out of the way of bulk services implementation.  A brief description of the key steps in the relocation process is as follows:

  • Identification of projects necessitating relocations

  • Quantification of the relocations

  • Informing the community of the impending relocation and determining to which housing project the families will be relocated

  • Identifying occupants and determining whether they qualify for the Provincial Housing Development Board (PHDB) subsidy

  • Preparing the necessary documents for submission to the PHDB, Metro Water and Durban Electricity

  • Proceeding with the actual relocation and ensuring that the structures which the families are vacating are dismantled

Some of the larger projects where relocations have successfully been implemented include the following:

  • Bellair Stream Protection

  • Bellair Road Upgrade

  • Booth Road West

  • Cato Crest Collector Roads - Phases 1 & 2

  • Bellair Urban Park

  • Mahlati Wiggins Connection

  • Durban Road Upgrade

what's new |overview | key dimensions | map | management | eu assistance |reports | history | press | contact | links