Land ‘grabbers’ interdicted, Inkosi against Zim-style take-over

2011-11-01 00:00

LOCAL businessman Philani Bha Ndlovu of Bha’s Car Wash in Sweetwaters and anyone acting through him have been temporarily interdicted from trespassing on land at Mount Michael, Hilton, that he is accused of having illegally attempted to “grab”.

It was alleged in papers put before Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Ron McLaren yesterday that Ndlovu openly admitted he was selling plots of the land in question, which he claimed belonged to the Ngonyama Trust and the Zulu people.

The urgent court order was obtained yesterday by agronomist Edmund (Rusty) Roodt, on behalf of Rozie Farming Investments CC, which allegedly owns the 82-hectare property described as Lot 106, Sweetwaters.

Roodt said in an affidavit the land is being farmed as a bluegum plantation, but is awaiting approval for a multi-million-rand development envisaging “640 subdivisions”.

The judge briefly suspended the proceedings so that lawyers could discuss the case with him.

Advocate Andre de Wet said it was explained to Ndlovu, who was in court yesterday, that the land has to be protected and that no one may go on to the property until the ownership dispute is resolved.

De Wet said Ndlovu has indicated he denies some of the allegations.

The parties agreed that Ndlovu will file his opposing affidavit by November 11. The case has been adjourned to November 21.

Title deeds reflecting Rozie Farming Investments CC, formerly Farmers Nuco CC, as the registered owner of the property were annexed to the court papers.

Roodt said in his affidavit he is the sole member of the CC.

He said he drove past Lot 106 on Saturday and noticed a number of people knocking in steel pegs on the property in what appeared to be a typical demarcation of plots.

“I counted some 20 plots that had been demarcated … The persons on the property continued knocking in further pegs, which were marked off with measuring tape.”

He alleged that Hilton police were “unco-operative”.

The police insisted he must produce his title deeds before any steps would be taken, he said. He was unable to do so until yesterday.

On Sunday Roodt said he noticed a bulldozer/tractor levelling the plots, and he managed to ascertain that they had been sold by Ndlovu. After he contacted him via cellphone Ndlovu arrived in a Black BMW without number plates, said Roodt.

He confronted Ndlovu, who responded that the land belonged to the Ngonyama Trust, which Roodt took to be a reference to the Zulu people.

Roodt alleged that Ndlovu told him openly that he is selling the plots and claimed he is entitled to do so.

“When I challenged him to explain on what basis, he reiterated that the land belonged to the Zulu people.”

Roodt said the property belonged to the Greene family from the late 1800s and his CC bought it on auction from an entity called Ovland Pty Ltd in 1992.

“The Zulu people never lived or owned any of the properties in what is now known as Winterskloof.”

He said a certain Chief Zondi lived two kilometres from Lot 106 on land in Sweetwaters, but he maintained that the land had never extended into Winterskloof.

Ndlovu or anyone who believes Lot 106 was previously Zondi’s land are mistaken, he said.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

===

Inkosi against Zim-style take-over

THE traditional leader of the community of Mpumuza has called on people involved in Sunday’s land grab to act within the parameters of the law in their efforts to claim the land.

iNkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi said, “We don’t want people to conduct themselves in a similar way as we have witnessed in Zimbabwe.”

Zondi said the land in question belonged to his great-grandfather, Tetelegu Zondi, who was the chief at the time and was forcibly removed from that area.

“We did apply for the land claim of that area, but were shocked to learn that the land claims commission does not have our application on record,” said Zondi.

He said they have asked the land claims commission to investigate old borders so they can reclaim the land belonging to the people of Mpumuza.

“Those people who were involved in Sunday’s act were not sent by me because I strongly believe that we should do this by the book,” said Zondi.

He said that until the dispute ends no one has a right to build on the property.

“We would also like to know who sold that land to Rusty Roodt because we would like to know the his­tory of ownership on it,” added Zondi.

Local councillor Pam Passmoor said, “Craig Millar and I were present at the scene of [Sunday’s] land grab. The crowd were very aggressive and kept telling us that the land had been bought for them by Julius Malema’s trust for R2 million.”

She said this sort of “wild West” activity cannot be condoned and they have sought the urgent intervention of Democratic Alliance MPs.

“I have also discussed this problem with the uMngeni mayor [Mbali Myeni] and she has undertaken to consult the department of Land Affairs as a matter of urgency,” said Passmoor.

“Illegal land grabs, which harm our fra­gile economy by scaring off potential developers and investors, must be stopped immediately with unmistakable and strong action,” she said.

Janet Edmonds of JEC Environmental Services said, “We have completed our environmental impact assessment process for the proposed residential development of this area and it was approved by the department of Environmental Affairs. However, there are two appeals outstanding before the development can begin.”

She confirmed that Roodt has a title deed for the property.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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