Palace land claim shock

2014-08-14 00:00

ZULU King Goodwill Zwelithini’s plans to build a palace in Ulundi may have come up against their first major obstacle, a land claim from the nineties.

Details of the dispute emerged during a land claims workshop in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Msizeni Magwaza, a member of the Qanqatho community, told The Witness they were shocked when they heard the new palace would be located at the eMakhosini Ophathe Heritage Park.

“We applied in 1998 claiming the same land that the king will be using for his palace. We are still waiting to hear from the Land Claims Commission,” said Magwaza.

“We don’t know how they approved (this land) for the king.”

Prince Mbonisi Zulu, King Zwelithini’s spokesperson said this was the first they had heard about the land claim.

“We know that the palace has been approved and I can’t comment about the land claim because we do not know about it,” said Zulu.

Judge Jerome Ngwenya, chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board, said he too was unaware of any land claims and that the “land belongs to the king”.

The Ingonyama Trust Board is an entity responsible for administration of Ingonyama Trust land which comprises about 2,8 million hectares in mostly rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal.

The Trust was established in 1994 to hold the land in title for “the benefit, material welfare and social well-being of the members of the tribes and communities” living on the land.

Representatives of communities from across the province attended a two day workshop, starting on Tuesday.

It is being held at the African Enterprise Centre in Pietermaritzburg to discuss land claims issues.

Magwaza said yesterday that the community, who live close to the disputed land, was already feeling the effects of the planned development.

A new fence that was installed to designate the King’s property had prevented their livestock from getting access to water in the nearby dam.

“Our animals are now mixing with wildebeest and more than 1 225 cows have died as a result of diseases they [picked up] from these wild animals,” said Magwaza.

A senior researcher from the Centre for Law and Society, Dr Mbongiseni Buthelezi, urged the Qanqatho community to challenge Ingonyama trust laws.

“The Ingonyama trust was formed three days before the first elections in South Africa and the community feels it (the KwaZulu Ingonyama Trust Act) gives more power to the Trust than the communities.

“Most of the communities feel they are abused by traditional leaders and that needs to be addressed,” said Buthelezi.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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