Protesters vow to disrupt Dusi race

2009-01-14 00:00

Despite assurances from Dusi Canoe Marathon organisers that there will be no disruptions to the race, the members of the disgruntled Qadi communities have vowed to continue with their planned protest, which they hope, will achieve the contrary.

These protests are planned to coincide with the race and to disrupt it so as to draw attention to the plight of some 317 families who were, in 1986, displaced from the land to make way for the construction of Inanda dam.

O’Brien Gcabashe, the leader of the disgruntled and dispossessed families, said that even if they are refused permission to protest they will continue with their planned protests. “We applied for permission [to stage the protest] out of courtesy. You cannot really expect us to ask for permission to convene for whatever reason on our rightful land,” he said.

Gcabashe said he has received requests for a meeting from stakeholders in the Inanda dam including Umgeni Water and uMsinsi nature reserve.

But he said only one thing can avert the planned protests. “We will only put our plans on hold if these stakeholders and the Dusi organisers can assure us that they will assist us with our legal fees as we want to take the government to court over the non-payment of compensation due to us.”

He continued: “We want monetary assistance from them as they continue to make profits from the land that was taken from us. We believe no one should continue making profits while the displaced families suffer.”

Gcabashe explained that taking government to court is a last bid by the Qadi families in their protracted struggle to get monetary compensation for their land from the government.

Although about R5,6 million in compensation was paid by the Land Affairs Department, the money never reached the rightful and intended recipients. Instead of being paid into a trust for the 317 families the funds were allocated to the late Inkosi M’zunjani Ngcobo.

Ngcobo reportedly refused to allocate the funds to the displaced families claiming that they were intended for the whole tribe and not just for the 317 families.

Numerous attempts by Gcabashe to recover the funds have all proved fruitless. He has even appeared before the provincial legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) where he presented the case of the displaced families.

“We feel that we have exhausted all other avenues this is why we will be staging the protest on Saturday and will take the matter to court if we feel we are not making any progress,” he said yesterday.

He said that the protests will take the form of a prayer gathering on the banks of Inanda Dam and on the road leading from the dam, in the hope that this will disrupt the Dusi.

According to Dusi organisers, they have received confirmation from the Ethekwini Municipality and the SAPS that the land claim protest set to take place around the Inanda dam area will not affect the Dusi.

bmbanjwa@witnbess.co.za

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