Displaced want their money

2008-03-30 00:00

The 317 families who were displaced from their land to make way for the construction of the Inanda Dam in 1986 have threatened to take the provincial government to court if they are not paid their compensation money by the end of the week.

Although about R5,6 million in compensation was paid by the Land Affairs Department, the money never reached the intended recipients.

It was instead appropriated by the Qadi Tribal Authority under the then inkosi, M’zunjani Ngcobo, who died earlier this year.

Ngcobo allegedly refused to give the money to the displaced families, claiming that the money was not only intended for the displaced families, but for the whole Qadi tribe.

Frustrated at having to wait, about 400 members of the displaced families took to the streets of Durban on Saturday to claim what they say is rightfully theirs.

Accepting the memorandum were officials from the departments of Land Affairs and Local Government and Traditional Affairs.

"We have given the two departments five days to respond to our grievances. The only way to respond would be to pay us the compensation due to us. If they fail to do so we will take these departments to court," said protest leader O’Brien Gcabashe.

He says the departments did not follow proper procedure when the money was paid. "The money was supposed to be paid to a properly constituted committee that would have comprised members of the Qadi community, provincial government officials and a magistrate from the Ndwedwe district. However, this was overlooked by the Traditional Affairs Department, which paid the money to the tribal authority."

Gcabashe also feels that Land Affairs should have intervened after realising that procedures were not adhered to when the money was paid.

"There is also the issue of the R5,4 million that was to be used to develop the piece of land that the government was to acquire for us. We never received this amount as the piece of land that had been identified was already occupied by squatters. We now want that to be paid to us as well," he said.

Should the legal route also prove fruitless, the displaced families have other contingency plans they will use to force the government’s hand. These include disrupting next year’s Duzi canoe marathon. "We will ensure that no activities take place at Inanda Dam."

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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