Some 750 South African families who say they were pushed out of their land on a natural reserve during apartheid will be handed over $5 million in compensation, President Jacob Zuma said Saturday.
“We have come together about land, to restore the rights of our people who were dispossessed,” Zuma said in Kruger, South Africa’s largest natural reserve.
“Today we are contributing to the reversal of the apartheid legacy by compensating six communities, three from Limpopo, and another three from Mpumalanga, all who were dispossessed through harsh apartheid laws,” he added.
“We are awarding a total amount of 84 million rand ($5.4 million, 4.8 million euros) to six communities,” Zuma said.
The 757 families who make up the six communities are the descendants of people expelled starting from the year 1930. While apartheid officially started in 1948, racial segregation began earlier.
They will be the first group to receive compensation on their claims on the Kruger national park, Zuma said.
“We celebrate this milestone in the history of Land Restitution in our country,” he said.
The government has decided to compensate the families rather than return their land because Kruger is now a major natural reserve.
Since the end of apartheid rule in 1994, 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) of land have been restituted to 1.9 million people, Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo, an official at the agriculture ministry, told AFP.
Many white South African farmers fear that the country may take the path of Zimbabwe, where the state-sanctioned seizure of white-owned farmland starting in 2000 left the agricultural sector in ruin.