Ximba people in uproar over land

2010-08-17 00:00

LAST week’s poaching incident in Camperdown was a “cry for help” from land claimants of the Ximba community, who believe the board of trustees they appointed to manage the land on their behalf has sold off their land.

Sixty-five people armed with guns, spears, knobkerries and hunting rifles invaded land in Camperdown, hunting buck.

They were cornered by police officers who believed they were poaching and a shoot-out ensued. One person was left wounded and has since been charged with attempted murder after he allegedly fired at police officers.

The more than 100 community members who gathered at the Camperdown police station for the court appearance of one of the men yesterday, sang struggle songs and danced inside the police station alleging that their board members had sold their land.

They blamed board trustees for the turmoil currently experienced in the area.

For several months, the land claimants and the board have been involved in running battles, this after the community discovered that the 5 000 hactares of land they received through the land restitution programme had been leased to a developer without their permission.

The investor will allegedly establish and build a game farm, a lodge and other entertainment areas at an estimated cost of R250 million there.

The community said while they are not opposed to the development, they are angry at the underhanded way it was approved and the insistence of the board to continue with development despite the community’s objections.

Inkosi Zibuse Mlaba of the area said there was no consultation between the board and the community about leasing the area to a developer. “The inkosi and community members found out about the development of the project when it was launched.

“The community was never consulted. And although the community has raised their objections on numerous occasions, the board continues to develop,” said Mlaba.

He said last week’s incident was the act of a community showing their frustration with the board. “They were not poaching. This is their land and they are legally allowed to be there. They entered the area to vent their anger over the development.”

Mlaba said the community have decided to approach the high court over the matter. “This is not to say that the Ximba community does not like development. We would very much like this development to continue, but we want it done in a transparent way.”

Efforts to contact the trustees yesterday failed.

A 43-YEAR-OLD man, Mbukeni Alfred Ndlovu of Hlanzeni, appeared in the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with a charge of attempted murder of two police officers arising from a confrontation between a group of armed poachers and police at Camperdown on August 7.

Ndlovu was allegedly injured during a gun battle between members of the police dog unit and the group of alleged poachers.

Ndlovu was hospitalised after the incident.

He is charged with the attempted murders of Warrant Officer Jay Marian and Constable Mbongeleni Phiri.

He was not asked to plead and his case was postponed to September 17 for further investigation.

One of the aspects police are still investigating is whether the accused was linked to the killing of two nyala ewes killed by hunting dogs during the incident.

Ndlovu has been released on warning.

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