Land dept blamed over row

2010-07-16 00:00

THE Land Claims Commission came in for a hammering during a dispute resolution session involving a game farmer, Peter Channing, and the community of Mhlangana in Muden yesterday.

Both sides blame the commission for the tension being experienced between the community and the farmer.

For the past 15 years, Channing and the community have been pushing Land Affairs to settle the community’s claim for the land.

The commision’s slow pace has caused an already frosty relationship between them to deteriorate, resulting in criminal charges being filed against the farmer.

Charges of attempted murder, common assault and stock theft have been filed against Channing, Muden police officers confirmed. The charges are being investigated, they said.

Yesterday, the community and Channing held a meeting at the Muden police station to commit themselves to peaceful co-existence while the land claim is being sorted out.

People who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity said that ever since Channing had moved to the area 15 years ago, their relations with him have been poor and they no longer want him in the area.

“Ever since he moved here, we have not had a moment of peace,” said one resident.

A community leader, Phunyuka Mhlongo, said one of their main concerns is the continued seizure of their livestock. Channing, he said, “impounds cattle and goats if they wander into his farm and he has killed several of our animals such as donkeys”.

He said the community is, however, willing to find a solution and co-exist until the land claim is settled.

Another community leader, Jotham Myaka, blamed the commission for the conflict. “The government is to blame for all the turmoil currently experienced on farms.

“On our claim, they have never given us a straight answer; if our claim was not legitimate, they should have just said so.”

Myaka added: “We filed this claim over 15 years ago today and nothing has been done about it. We have been as far as … [Land Affairs Minister Gugile] Nkwithi’s office to try and resolve the matter, but nothing has been done.”

Channing described the charges against him as fabrications, saying he has also been a victim of crime as thieves have removed R800 000 worth of fencing on his farm.

He also blamed the government for the turmoil on his farm. “The claim was put on this farm over 13 years ago, and to date nothing has been done.”

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