800 march in land protest

2009-03-23 00:00

A protest involving 800 people was held in Rietvlei on Saturday over a land claim dispute and against the Rietvlei police, the justice system and the alleged failure of the the Land Affairs Department to provide tenure security to the Masikane family there.

It is alleged by the Masikane family that they are being unfairly evicted from land owned by Colin de Gaspary. They also claim he is responsible for the deaths of the only two people who had claim to the land (a grandmother and her son who were once labourers on the farm) and that the justice system and police have taken his side by not investigating any of the assault or murder cases they have opened against De Gaspary.

Said De Gaspary, "I am a 46-year-old man who up until the age of 43 had no criminal record. In the past three years I have been in and out of prison five times, have been in hospital for stitches to my head, a broken nose, hand and other injuries after being assaulted by seven people. The situation is horrendous, but I will not back away from my land."

He said he bought the land from his father seven years ago, and that the Masikane family moved on to the plot only in 1975, not 1949 as they have claimed.

De Gaspary says he has followed all the legal procedures, but protest organiser Jabu Masikane, granddaughter of the deceased Irene Masikane, said she has seen no such paperwork.

She claimed to have seen De Gaspary "run over my grandmother with his motorbike and beat my uncle who died shortly after".

Postmortems revealed that both the grandmother and her son died of natural causes with no visible signs of injury to their bodies.

Police said no injury or damage to property was caused as a result of Saturday's protest, which went off smoothly.

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