The Promised Land Part 3

A Special Assignment investigation

Built in 1872 and surrounded by sprawling lawns and well maintained colonial architecture, Hilton College is one of the most prestigious and oldest private schools in South Africa. Just shy of R300 000 per child per year, it is where the super wealthy send their children to get educated. The College is built on the Hilton Estate, behind it lives a community of four families whose future is unknown. They are claiming a portion of the land as their own.

Thanda Mwelase is from one of the four families who are claiming the land as rightfully belonging to them. To him, the history of Hilton College is a bitter reminder that the land on which his family had lived since the 1800’s is no longer theirs. Under the Labour Tenants Act, which is supposed to address the injustices of the past by giving labour tenants ownership of the small portion of land that they live on, the families believe they have a good chance of getting their land back, but the school is fighting them every step of the way.

The families are some of the thousands of labour tenant applicants in the country who are relying on the state to process their claims, almost two decades later. Their case, a class action suit, is in peril as time is not on many of the claimants’ side- they are very old and some of them have passed on yet the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform continues to push judicial parameters to the extreme in order to avoid implementing the law.

Watch a repeat of The Promised Land (Part II), produced by Lindile Mpanza for Special Assignment, Sundays at 21:30 on SABC3 and the News Channel.

For more information contact Special Assignment on 011 714 5419

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