Mala Mala: Future in Concourt’s hand

2013-02-06 00:00

THE future of the luxury Mala Mala game reserve is in the hands of the Constitutional Court.

Mala Mala, on the western edge of the Kruger park, caters mainly to foreign tourists, as its rates are out of reach of most South Africans.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said yesterday the Constitutional Court will rule on whether the reserve’s 13 000 hectares must be returned to the local community, and whether the government’s offer of R460 million for the land and facilities is fair.

The sum comprises R395 million for the land at R30 000 a hectare, and R66 million for all the reserve’s buildings.

The land’s claimants, the Mhlanganisweni community, and the owners, four companies mainly controlled by Michael Rattray and his family, are not contesting the validity of the claim.

The community wants the land itself, but the owners say the government’s offer of R30 000 a hectare is unfairly low, and are seeking R70 000 a hectare, which they say is the market value.

The Land Claims Court found that the government could not afford to pay the owners’ asking price, and the claimants should therefore get a financial payout, rather than the land itself.

The owners appealed against this ruling and applied to Mogoeng for a hearing.

They have cleared the first hurdle, in that their case was not summarily dismissed. The chief justice has requested oral arguments.

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