THE dignity of Macleantown families forcibly removed from their land in 1970 has finally been restored.
LONG WAIT ENDS
On Friday, the MEC for human settlements, Helen Sauls-August, handed over the first of 77 housing units being built in the area for families who had been dispossessed of their land.
Mvakwakhe Ntenteni, 94, and Nolist Ntenteni, 69, are among thousands of people who were forcibly removed from their homes by the apartheid government.
According to the department, black people had previously owned and occupied the erven in Macleantown.
In 1970, the town was declared a white group area and erven owned by black residents were expropriated. Some residents moved to Mpongo location in Chalumna.
The state then sold the expropriated properties to white owners.
A few years ago land in Macleantown was returned to the dispossessed families by the department of rural development and land affairs, and the area became a land restitution project.
Ntenteni and his wife, who lived in Tshabo village after being evicted, returned to their settlement in 2006 after living in a shack.
Recalling the day he had been “kicked” off his land, Ntenteni, who was in his 40s at the time, said it was a very sad day for the people of Macleantown to be driven from the place they knew as home.
“On that day I cried tears of sorrow, but today I am crying tears of joy,” said Ntenteni.
Equally excited was Ntenteni’s eldest grandchild, 26-year-old Siyamthanda.
“I was very worried about the health of my grandparents as the shack we lived in was cold and it flooded when it rained.”
MEC Sauls-August said more than 700 000 people in the province had been forcefully removed from their settlements and her department was working with the department of land affairs to restore the dignity of these people.
“We decided to intervene and work together with land affairs to ensure that we not only give land back to people, but also bring proper services to the previously dispossessed,” Sauls-August said.
Twenty-four female contractors had been appointed to build the housing units which the MEC will hand to the remaining families.