Land row: We were conned, say women

2013-01-29 00:00

THE livelihood of at least 40 women running small businesses in Bhamshela outside Dalton hangs in the balance after they were allegedly cheated out of the prime land they operated their businesses on.

The women sell take-away food, fruit and vegetables from a market built on the land.

Faith Mngoma, who spoke on the women’s behalf, said they were cheated out of the land by local businessman Makhosonke Mgube.

They claim he went behind their backs and secured himself a Permission to Occupy (PTO) certificate from the Ingonyama Trust Board.

The board confirmed this week that it had granted the PTO to Mgube, but it did not clarify when it was granted.

Mgube confirmed to The Witness that he had applied for the PTO and said the land did not belong to the women, but to the Ingonyama Trust. “I think they are just causing problems because they see another person doing something productive on that land,” he said.

Mngoma said that about 20 years ago the women were given the land by one of the community members and were officially acknowledged by the local inkosi, Mhlabunzima Mthuli, as the owners.

“We were supposed to build a market to trade. We did not have the money and Mthuli introduced us to [Mgube] who said he would build the market and we would reimburse him in rent, and once the cost of building had been recovered, the market would be given back to us.”

She said the women’s relationship with Mgube soured a few years ago when they demanded to know how many more months were left before their debt was settled. He allegedly refused to tell them and they retaliated by not paying rent. They were paying between R120 and R170.

Inkosi Mthuli said the land was initially given to the women, but that it was misused. He added that Mgube had said he had found someone who would build a shopping centre there.

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