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Last Updated: Monday, 25 April, 2005, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Diamond land claim in SA court
A community in South Africa's Northern Cape Province has gone to court seeking 2.5bn rand ($400m) in compensation for diamond-rich land seized in the 1920s.

The claim includes R1.5bn ($250m) for diamonds that the state-owned company Alexkor mined in and around the town of Alexander Bay in the Richtersveld area.

The inhabitants were evicted from their land by the white minority government.

Since the end of apartheid, communities have been allowed to claim for lost land but progress has been slow.

The 5,000-strong community launched their claim in 1998.

"We eagerly hope that at last we will have an outcome - for us victory is in sight," community representative Floors Strauss told the South African Press Association (Sapa).

Compensation certain

South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled in 2003 that the community was entitled to restitution and to mineral rights.

Sapa reports that the court will therefore be ruling on the parameters of the claim, rather than whether there will be compensation.

The Richtersveld is a desert region, with diamonds the only source of natural wealth.

The lack of other economic opportunities makes the claim a particularly urgent one for the impoverished community.

Land reform legislation introduced since the end of apartheid in South Africa has opened up the possibility of compensation for communities dispossessed of land since 1913.

However bureaucratic and legal delays have meant that only a handful of claims have been processed in the decade since the new laws came into effect.

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