The handover – part of  Human Rights Day celebrations – was conducted by the province’s Human Settlements MEC, Babalo Madikizela, at Tambo Village.

The homes were built by the Ciskei homeland government in the 1980s.

Madikizela said the deeds “restored the dignity” of the beneficiaries and gave them the right to own the houses they had called home for the past three decades.

“We have decided to celebrate and honour all those who died years ago on this day by serving this country. We have come to make sure that members of this community get to enjoy the right of owning where they live,” said Madikizela.

The human settlements department and Enoch Mgijima Municipality undertook a verification process to ensure the deeds were handed to the rightful beneficiaries.

READ MORE: Give black people title deeds to property – analyst

Madikizela said issuing of title deeds was one of his department’s priorities. “Challenges”, such as the conveyancing process, had made the process slower than planned, he said.

Zwelinjani Lawu and his wife Nomsa were among the beneficiaries. Zwelinjani told African News Agency that they were among the first residents on the land, which they “invaded” in the 1980s before their houses were formally built.

“Although we have been staying here for years, there has never been a real confirmation that indeed we own these houses. I feel now I am empowered and I have proof that this is my home,” said Zwelinjani.

“We invaded this land but our government understood that we were under pressure because we had nowhere to stay,” he said.

– African News Agency