SA government

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Black Limpopo farmer sues government over promised farm

David Rakgase, a Limpopo farmer, has had enough of the government’s failed promises in allowing him to purchase the land he’s leased for 27 years.

SA government

File Photo

David Rakgase is a farmer from Limpopo who, after 27 years of leasing land from the government, has had enough of the red tape that is not allowing him to purchase the land.

Rakgase took matters to the Pretoria High Court in an attempt to force the state to sell him the farm he has leased since 1991.

He claims that he has used the 1,560-hectare Nooitgedacht farm, in Waterberg, for the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) programme that is meant to develop black farmers.

A government land reform programme that failed its people

The 77-year-old farmer takes care of livestock on the leased land, with 500 cattle, 130 goats, 80 sheep and a thriving butchery. His fears are clear: for as long as he does not own the land, his business is not safe.

According to Rakgase, he was provisionally accepted, as part of the LRAD programme, as the owner of the farm in 2002.

After going through a rigorous selection process, the state’s valuation of the land was placed at R1.2m. He was then told that the state would provide him with a R400,000 grant and that he had to pay the remaining R800,000 to acquire the land.

It was only years later that the government told him that he, in fact, could not complete the purchase of the land.

In his own words, Rakgase exclaimed that,

“I was very hurt. This land is my home. I buried my loved ones here because I was assured I would stay here permanently”

Rakgase’s decision to take the state to court rose after it was said that he had to sign another 30-year lease. He had been paying a monthly rental fee of R3,410 for almost three decades.

Regarding that lease, he stated that,

“I have been waiting for that lease for almost 18 months. They still won’t give it to me.”

The state denies that it has been deliberately blocking Rakgase, and any other farmer, from purchasing land.

Limpopo rural development dept’s response

According to Avhashoni Magada, the spokesman for Limpopo’s department of rural development and land reform, the timing of Rakgase’s bid to own the land was way off.

He went on further to state that the LRAD programme discontinued while Rakgase’s application to purchase the land was still pending approval.

He added that

“as such, he did not get the opportunity to finally own the property. It is important to note that discontinuation did not only affect Mr Rakgase alone or only the farmers in Northam, as alleged – it affected all farmers who were in a similar position as Mr Rakgase.”

Rakgase, however, is confident that the evidence he will present in court proves that the approval of his purchase was documented before the LRAD programme was discontinued.

The state has yet to present its defence to the Pretoria High Court.