Soon after 1994 the current South African government returned the land to the descendants of the original inhabitants.
Riemvasmaak has a special place in South African history as it was the first land restitution case after the election of a democratic government. In 1994, some Riemvasmakers returned to the land from which they had been forcibly removed 21 years earlier. Riemvasmaak offers rich and valuable lessons for the land reform process broadly and the conversion of military land more specifically. First, it is a graphic example of how the military gained land at the expense of its rightful owners. Second, it highlights the negative impact of military activity on the land. Although ecological damage has been minimal, some people even arguing that the land has benefited from the military presence, military debris is a legacy with which the community will have to live for many years. Third, Riemvasmaak demonstrates the intransigence of the military through the drawn-out struggle that communities undertook to regain the land. Finally, Riemvasmaak encapsulates the difficulties communities face as land use shifts from defence to development.
The Riemvasmakers’ struggle was far from over when they regained land from the SANDF, and has taken different forms as the people attempt to develop the land and rebuild a sense of community. Development has been a complex, protracted, and, at times, conflictual process. This is the result of a range of factors, including inadequate assistance from an ill-equipped Department of Land Affairs; social divisions in the community along gender, ethnic, class and political lines and a lack of community capacity to engage with development processes.
Electricity for domestic use was switched on for the first time in 2002 . Also in the same period a large area of the land was put under trellised vines for the production of raisins.