Deputy Minister of Land Affairs and Rural Development, Mcebisi Skwatsha, held a two-hour meeting with the beneficiaries of the KwaNdabeni Land Claimants to address their infighting and disputes, on Monday September 25.
About 100 beneficiaries, most of them pensioners who want financial compensation for the land from which they were forcefully removed, braved the cold weather to attend the meeting and have their queries addressed.
There were heckles and backchatting as beneficiaries raised strong views about the land, questioning the legitimacy of the board of trustees who had been elected by the residents to represent them, the delayed reimbursement and the sale of their land by the trustees without proper consultation.
The beneficiaries were told that because their land had already been developed, government had opted to award the land claimants 54.8ha of land along the N7 near Wingfield.
They were informed that the trustees had sold their land to the tune of R107 million without consulting the claimants. But it took one brave woman, who is also a beneficiary, to stop the land transfer of the land after she approached the courts for assistance.
The matter is currently being heard at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, a process the beneficiaries hope will result in the reversal of the sale of the land.
Mr Skwatsha said the trustees had no authority to sell the land and that what they had done was wrong.
He said it was shocking that the land which was valued over R300 million had been sold at such a low price.
He told the residents that if the woman had not intervened, they might have lost their land.
He added that the financial gains that the claimants could have obtained from the sale of the land would be R5 000 or R8 000 for what is considered to be prime land.
He said the Master of the High Court would appoint an independent interim trust to oversee the land claim process, but was still awaiting a legal opinion before any appointment could be made.
“We will pool some resources to support this brave woman because she might not have (the finances) to cover the costs of the case. That land belongs to you and we will never allow people to take advantage of you.
“You as beneficiaries need to stop this infighting thing because it delays your claim process. That land does not belong to us but if we discover that there is corruption, we will intervene,” he said.
Land claimant Thulula Msizi said she supported the appointment of the independent trust to oversee their claims and lamented that infighting and disagreements had delayed their claims.
Another claimant, Nosipho Sibhaca, said she questioned the election of the trustees and was glad that the court had highlighted that the election and appointment of the trustees had not been properly conducted. “We have been fighting for this land for years. This land is the inheritance of our children and grandchildren. We need to decide among ourselves about what we want to do with this land,” she said.