Good farm, no farm: Brakfontein

2013-06-23 13:59

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R5m later, a few cattle and goats are all this land in Brakfontein can boast.

Government promised to resettle the Mampuru and Bakwena ba Kopa communities on their land outside Groblersdal when it restored a portion of it two years ago.

The 1?068?hectare piece, restored to them by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti through the land-restitution programme, was part of the 367?000?hectares the community says it lost in 1973.

Most residents were moved to a rocky and rugged spot outside Steelpoort, about 120km away.

But two years later, none of the 625?households have resettled on the land, even though more parts of it have been restored to them.

The 1?068?hectare Brakfontein farm remains the grazing land it was last year, when Nkwinti bought it back for more than R5?million, and no houses have been built.

A few nearby families use it to graze their cattle and goats.

The Mampuru community say they are disappointed at the pace of their resettlement and complain that government officials responsible for the land’s development have not kept them informed about resettlement plans.

Kgoputso Segokodi, who serves on the Brakfontein Communal Property Association, says there’s a pressing need to resettle locals as the Ga-Mampuru area has run out of land to build new houses.

Segokodi said: “The section (of the department) that must do development is dragging its feet. We can’t blame government when we don’t know what our right is. Our understanding is that when we get the land back, we’ll also get houses.”

He says there is no water or electricity infrastructure on the restored land, and the two officials Nkwinti assigned in 2011 to speed up development have lost touch with them.

But ministerial spokesperson Mtobeli Mxotwa says budget and staff constraints limit the number of rural areas his department could develop, and Brakfontein was not at the top of their list of projects.

“One thing is for sure, we are going to develop rural areas. But development will take the present government many years to do,” he says.

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