Conference Themes

Sessions 1-2: Chronicling forced removals and framing redress

Segregated spatial planning under apartheid produced staggering levels of neighbourhood distress. Distressed neighbourhoods are poverty traps: poverty reproduces itself regardless of who moves in and out. Evidence from mobility experiments in the major cities in the USA, from Chicago, to Boston and New York show startling impacts. By carefully studying the positive life trajectories of poor families that moved out of chronically distressed neighbourhoods, and comparing their trajectories with families that remained behind, the negative causal effects of distressed neighbourhoods has been scientifically established.

But unlike the efforts to desegregate America’s major cities, South Africa’s land restitution programme is far less targeted, and for that reason extremely complex to evaluate. The lessons from this international evidence offer a lens through which to view the target population of restitution. Restitution beneficiaries are usually the surviving descendants of families (many of them young children) that underwent a reverse type of mobility experiment, to destination neighbourhoods with higher levels of poverty that would become entrenched over time. Thus, the background to the dispossession potentially anchors the material, social and psychological circumstances of beneficiaries to the site of the relocated neighbourhood, as well as the site of the dispossession.

To foreground the work undertaken by the Land Restitution Evaluation Study (LRES), the first two sessions of the conference will revisit what is known about the scale and scope of forced removals and then cast a lens on the period following the passing of the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994. Session 1 deals with the monumental five volume report released by The Surplus People Project (SPP) which documented forced removals during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The special case of District 6 in Cape Town is also given special attention. Session 2 then looks at the initial years of the work of the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR), the challenges experienced since those initial years and concludes with an update on this work.

Session 3: The Land Restitution Evaluation Study

Session 3 introduces the work of LRES, starting with the background to the study before outlining the rationale of the study. A summary of the international evidence base on cash and asset transfers will be provided, since these are the main types of benefits delivered through the restitution programme. The session will outline three aspects of this evidence base: (i) that the size of the award matters for impacts; (ii) that the impacts can persist into the long-run; (iii) that the impacts can have knock on effects. These findings provide the rationale for key aspects of the study, including the design and theorised impacts given the aims of restitution.

Empirical estimates of impacts will then be presented based on the primary data collected from beneficiaries. The presentation will cover how outcomes were measured, the methodologies used to estimate impacts on the chosen outcomes, and the opportunities arising from the study findings for shaping future restitution policy.

Session 4: Round table: broader debates

The conference will conclude with a round-table panel discussion. While the focus in Session 3 will be restricted to establishing the rationale, theory, methods and findings of LRES, the purpose of this final session will be to broaden the discussion to reflect on broader debates about restitution policy in South Africa and globally.

Preliminary Programme

Time Session Topic Presenter Chair
8.15-8.45 Registration
Opening: 9.00-9.45 Opening remarks Minister Thoko Didiza Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha and Chief Commissioner Nomfundo Ntloko
Session 1 The toll of forced removals Land Claims Court Judge
9.45-10.15 The Surplus People Project (SPP) Laurine Platzky
10.15-10.45 District 6 Chris Julies
10.45-11.00 Tea
Session 2 Restitution and redress Godfrey Mashamba
11.00-11.30 Restitution retrospectives Cheryl Walker
11.30-12.00 Restitution update Nomfundo Ntloko
Session 3 The Land Restitution Evaluation Study (LRES)
12.00-12.15 Study background I Godfrey Mashamba Thokozile Molaiwa
12.10-12.30 Study background II Beryl Leach Thokozile Molaiwa
12.30-13.00 Study rationale: evidence from cash and asset transfer programmes Malcolm Keswell Pippa Green
13.00-14.00 Lunch
14.00-15.00 Findings from LRES Mvuselelo  Ngcoya & Malcolm Keswell Pippa Green
15.00-15.15 Tea
Session 4 15.15-17.15 Round table: broader debates Nomfundo Ntloko, Malcolm Keswell, Mvuselelo Ngoya, Sheryl Walker,

Laurine Platzky and others (TBC)

Pippa Green
17.15-17.30 Closing remarks Nomfundo Ntloko

LRES Findings Launch Conference - Presenter Biographies

Laurine Platzky

Laurine Platzky holds BA, B.Soc Sci, and a Master’s degrees in City and Regional Planning from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and a PhD in Regional Development Planning from the Erasmus University’s International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. On graduating from UCT, Laurine worked for 12 years in NGOs exposing apartheid forced removals across South Africa, coordinating the publication of five volumes of material for the Surplus People Project and co-authoring the book The Surplus People (1985) with Cherryl Walker. She then coordinated the National Committee Against Removals (NCAR), working as an activist with provincial affiliates and communities threatened with removal. Following her PhD, she contributed to the writing of the democratic Constitution of South Africa and later worked on the Reconstruction and Development Programme in the Presidency in 1996, and on Spatial Development Initiatives for the national Department of Trade and Industry (1997-8). In 1999 she was appointed Deputy Director General in the Western Cape Government and headed various initiatives in economic development, tourism, housing, cultural affairs and sport. She was the Western Cape Co-ordinator of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the provincial representative on the 2014 World Design Capital board. She led the writing of the Alcohol Harms Reduction White Paper as part of her work in the Department of the Premier. She has also taught in the Development Policy and Practice Masters Programme at UCT’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance and serves as a mentor to students at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the UCT Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products and Chair of the Board of the Service Dining Rooms. She has served as Chair of Council of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology since 2018.

Chrischené Julius

Chrischené Julius is a history and museum studies graduate of the Universities of the Western Cape (2008) and Cape Town (2001). She has worked at the District Six Museum since 2003, working across departments, including the Exhibitions Department, and is currently Head of the Collections, Research and Documentation Department. Over the past decade she has been involved in several exhibitions, oral history and research projects, co-ordinating community-led processes for the Museum.

Cherryl Walker

Cherryl Walker is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Stellenbosch University. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and from 2016 till her retirement in 2023 held a DSI/NRF South African Research Chair in the Sociology of Land, Environment and Sustainable Development at Stellenbosch University. Her career has straddled the academic, government and NGO sectors. Her pioneering research on the women’s anti-pass campaign led to her first book, Women and Resistance in South Africa (1982, 1991) and an edited volume, Women and Gender in Southern Africa to 1945 (1990). She was a founding member of AFRA, a land-rights NGO, a core researcher in the Surplus People Project’s investigation of forced removals under apartheid (1983), and co-author, with Laurine Platzky, of SPP’s single-volume synthesis, The Surplus People (1985). Between 1995 and 2000 she served on South Africa’s Commission on Restitution of Land Rights as Regional Land Claims Commissioner for KwaZulu- Natal. From 2007 to 2009 she was a member of the Economic Commission for Africa’s Expert Consultative Team which contributed to the African Union’s ‘Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa’. Publications addressing land issues include Landmarked: Land Claims and Land Restitution in South Africa (2008); Land Divided, Land Restored: Land Reform in South Africa for the 21st Century (2015, co-edited with Ben Cousins), and a special issue of the Journal of Southern African Studies, ‘Karoo Futures: Astronomy in Place and Space’ (2019, co-edited with Davide Chinigò and Saul Dubow). Her most recent publications are: Beyond Expropriation without Compensation: Law, Land Reform and Redistributive Justice in South Africa (2024, co-edited with Olaf Zenker and ZsaZsa Boggenpoel) and Contested Karoo: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Change and Continuity in South Africa’s Drylands (2024, co-edited with Timm Hoffman).

Nomfundo Ntloko

Nomfundo Ntloko is an admitted attorney of 25 years, and South Africa’s first woman Chief Land Claims Commissioner. She is a human rights activist with extensive working experience both at functional and leadership levels of the Public, NGO and Private Sectors. Her most notable appointments have been that of Chief Land Claims Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa, Acting Judge of the North Gauteng Division of the High Court, and Director of the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg. Commissioner Ntloko hails from Mthatha in the former Transkei Homeland and is passionate about serving her country. She recognises the Constitution as the foundation of all the work she does. True to the meaning of her name Nomfundo, she is a proponent of lifelong learning. Commissioner Ntloko holds key among other qualifications, a Post Graduate Certificate in Housing Policy Development and Management from the Graduate School of Public & Development Management at the University of Witwatersrand, a Diploma in Advanced Labour Law from the University of South Africa, a Master’s Degree in Business Management from the Oral Roberts University of Tulsa Oklahoma in the United States of America, a Master of Laws Degree from the University of Cape Town, and a BProc (Baccalaureus Procurationis) Degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Godfrey Mashamba

Godfrey Mashamba is a Deputy Director General at the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), South Africa. His responsibilities include evaluation, evidence and knowledge systems, in which amongst others, he oversees the evaluations portfolio of the department as well as provision of data integration and analytics services to support government priorities.

Beryl Leach

Beryl Leach represented one of the LRES study funders, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), as part of the governing committee for the project from study inception through to completion.  As 3ie Director for Advocacy and Policy, she was responsible for monitoring and advising the study in terms of 3ie oversight of the research design and of implementation of its funding agreement with LRES, a role she agreed to keep even after leaving 3ie in 2019.  She then served for three years as a Global Excellence and Stature Professor of Practice at the University of Johannesburg, where she researched the role of AI in evidence production and improved gender and equity research methodologies and was a senior advisor at the Africa Centre for Evidence.  Now based in the US, she is responsible for research funding at the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research.  She holds a MSc in International Public Health (Distinction) from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Thokozile Molaiwa

Thokozile Molaiwa is a seasoned monitoring and evaluation specialist and has served as an evaluator in institutions such as the Public Service Commission, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and was appointed to head the Evaluation Unit at the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation since August 2020. She has over 21 years’ experience with 16 years’ experience in the evaluation of programmes and interventions commissioned by government to address the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. Ms Molaiwa holds 4 degrees and a Post Graduate Diploma in the fields of Agricultural Economics, Land and Agrarian Studies and Monitoring and Evaluation.  She has also attended the International Programme for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) hosted by the World Bank at Carleton University in Canada in 2010. She has been part of South Africa’s National Evaluation System (NES) since August 2012 and managed 2 of 8 evaluations included in the first South African National Evaluation Plan (NEP) amongst others. She has served on the National Evaluation Technical Working Group (ETWG) advising on the implementation of the NES. She further served on the steering committee for the evaluation of the NES which resulted in the review of the National Evaluation Policy Framework in 2019. Her current roles include managing and coordinating the NES and the National Evaluation Advisory Committee. She is also a member of the Technical Committee of Twende Mbele African M&E Partnership.

Mvuselelo Ngcoya

Mvuselelo Ngcoya is an Associate Professor in Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His research focuses on agrarian change, with a specific focus on sustainable agriculture. His work on land reform arises from his personal history as a descendant of victims of multiple forced removals. Mvu is also a practicing farmer and co-directs Bonakude Farm, a 2-hectare agroecological project in the undulating hills of Richmond, KwaZulu-Natal. His work has featured in multiple academic journals, print media, and in the award-winning documentary, The Last Seed. Mvu serves on the board of a number of organisations including Biowatch, an NGO promoting agroecology and seed preservation in South Africa. When he is not in the classroom or field, he spends his time being a father to two girls, Halala and Nala, who sustain his dream of better life for young people in rural areas.

Pippa Green

Pippa Green has been a journalist, writer, researcher and journalism teacher for more than three decades, working on newspapers, magazines, in radio, and at academic institutions. Most recently, she was editor of Econ3x3, the online publication affiliated to SALDRU that publishes policy-relevant research on unemployment, inequality, and poverty. Before that she spent two years as the national Press Ombudsman, the first woman to hold the position. She holds an Honours degree in Economic History from UCT and an MSc from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York City. She has been deputy editor of the Sunday Independent and the Pretoria News, and political editor and head of Radio News at the SABC. She was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University (1998-1999) and was a visiting Ferris professor at Princeton University (2006). She is the author of “Choice not Fate: The Life and Times of Trevor Manuel.” (Penguin, 2008), which was shortlisted for the Alan Paton Award.  She headed the Journalism Programme at the University of Pretoria from 2009 to 2014. From 2014-2019, she worked with the Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution, and Inclusive Growth (REDI3x3), based at UCT, which focused on policies to combat unemployment, poverty and inequality, and worked as a part-time news-editor in the EWN newsroom at Cape Talk. While there, she produced two podcast series: History for the Future, where former Truth and Reconciliation commissioners reflected on the TRC’s impact two decades after the first hearings, and another on the life and times of Andrew Mlangeni, “Lessons from a Rivonia Trialist. Last year she published a report of the REDI3x3 research, “A Measure of our Ills – and how we might fix them.” She has written for several publications including the New Yorker (online), Sunday Times, Business Day, Sunday Independent and Mail&Guardian, and contributed chapters in several books.

Malcolm Keswell

Malcolm Keswell was the Lead-PI of the Land Restitution Evaluation Study. He is  Associate Professor in the school of Economics and a research associate of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He holds a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and has held academic appointments at UCT (2001-2007, 2011-present) and Stellenbosch University (2007-2010). His research and teaching are in the fields of behavioural economics and development economics. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, and has held visiting appointments at the Santa Fe Institute. Early in his career he held research appointments at the University of Natal Medical School and the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. He was the 2005 recipient of the JJI Middleton Medal, awarded by the Economic Society of South Africa.