KZN land invasion averted

2008-07-08 00:00

A Threatened farm invasion outside Greytown was averted yesterday after the police intervened.

A group of about 20 protesters, mostly members of the Landless People’s Movement, gathered outside Orangewood Farm demanding to meet the farm owner.

When the would-be invaders were informed that the farmer was away on business they issued an ultimatum giving him three hours to meet with them.

They threatened that if the meeting did not take place within the three hours they would set free some of the animals, remove the farmer’s belongings from the farm and invade it.

Police and security guards were called to the scene.

After lengthy talks with the Rietvlei police, the group agreed to disperse peacefully and wait outside the farm property.

The protesters, who claim to have lodged a land claim, are demanding a piece of the farm property, which was allegedly promised to them by the current owner of the farm.

They are also unhappy that some of their livestock was "attacked" by the farmer’s dogs.

However, farm owner Neil Sykes denied having promised any land to the protesters and that there is a claim on his farm.

"When I bought in 1994, there were people on the farm who had been contract labourers under the previous owner.

"Their contracts were terminated and in 1996, the Supreme Court served them with notices to vacate the farm," he said.

Sykes added that while the group of people had become illegal occupants, he let them live on the farm. "I felt sorry for them as they had nowhere to go. I am busy negotiating with Land Affairs so that they can be given alternative land."

The two parties were to meet late last night.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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