Land claimants want action

2012-04-13 00:00

A LAND protest in the Muden area, about midway between Weenen and Greytown, turned nasty yesterday, resulting in 132 people being arrested for public violence.

Those arrested included juveniles who took part in an illegal march that began in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The community had blockaded the R74 Main Road between Muden and Greytown with trees, rocks, tyres and debris. They spent last night in jail and are expected to appear at the Greytown court today.

The protest also caused traffic delays. By 10 am the traffic was still moving slowly as a grader removed the rocks and the rubbish on the roads. A small group of community members sat next to the blockaded road.

The land under dispute is Marina Beach properties owned by Pannar Seeds. It is a vast tract of land that is more rock than soil, and dry with sparse rain there even in summer. Currently, even the rivers have run dry.

Sipho Dlamini of Land Affairs said they were negotiating two claims on the land, one a restitution claim and the other the settlement of labour tenants. “The newly appointed acting chief director in KZN has met with the land owner’s lawyers and discussed the purchase of 5 000 hectares as a settlement.”

The second part of the claim, the land restitution, was being handled by the Land Restitution Commission.

Nokuthokoza Ndlela of the commission was contacted for comment, but had not responded by yesterday afternoon.

A community member and councillor Bhojabhoja Dlamini said that the community had grown increasingly frustrated with the delays.

“This is not only affecting the communities’ right to land ownership, but it has also been detrimental for service provision in this area, as service delivery to at least 3 000 household is in jeopardy,” said Bhojabhoja.

“The municipality had numerous projects that were supposed to have been put up, but because we do not own the land, the land owners would not allow for any form of development until the claim is settled.”

“There was a project to build a dam, but the land owners forbade the contractors to build. He refused to let them build toilets and he refused to allow the area to be electrified. This area is really being left behind when it comes to service delivery.”

Martin Platt, the farm manager, said they have been negotiating with the department and the community for the past 12 years. He conceded that he had refused for any services to be brought to the area.

“I cannot just allow for services to be established. They have to buy the land first.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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