Land: States craps claim on South Africa's largest sugar farm

2010-11-03 00:00

THE state has decided to scrap the largest land claim ever made against a single land owner in the country.

Land claimants in KwaZulu-Natal claimed about 20 000 ha from Charl Senekal, South Africa’s biggest sugar farmer.

Senekal is the man on whose farm Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi pitched his tent while on a visit to South Africa.

Senekal appointed two ethnologists to investigate the claims of the Gumbi and Myeni tribes. The claims were instituted nine years ago.

The Gumbi tribe claimed all Senekal’s land north of the Mkuze River between Mkuze and Pongola, while the Myeni tribe claimed land south of the river.

The two ethnologists established that the two tribes never owned Senekal’s land.

The land has been in white hands since as early as 1880.

“I am extremely relieved,” Senekal said, while he was busy with negotiations to help the Myeni tribe plant about 5 000 ha of sugar cane.

He had offered earlier to help the tribes that claimed the land from him with a sugar cane project.

A few years ago Senekal spent about R36 million to bring water to his sugar cane fields from the Pongolapoort Dam.

Through the project he helped supply water to about 300 000 people at the same time, according to Landbouweekblad.

If the claims against Senekal had been successful, about 800 of his workers stood to have lost their jobs.

Many of them sent a petition to the land claims commissioner in which they requested that the land claim be discontinued.

Senekal, who plays a big part in uniting the farmers in the country, has a good relationship with President Jacob Zuma and King Goodwill Zwelithini.

Last year he was a member of an Agri SA delegation that visited Libya at the request of that country’s government to investigate farming possibilities there.

Recently he led a delegation to speak to the Mozambican government.

Senekal said the land claims commissioner has had to appear in the land claims court for explanations on two occasions, but did not arrive in both instances.

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