Minister 'attending to' Richtersveld

2010-10-18 16:24

Cape Town - The ministry of rural development and land reform is "attending to" a cry for help from the Richtersveld community, a ministry spokesperson said on Monday.

Last week community leaders sent Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti what they said was their third request for him to appoint an independent mediator to resolve the disputes that have split the Richtersvelders.

"The Richtersveld matter is being attended to," ministry spokesperson Mtobeli Mxotwa said on Monday.

"We've received their correspondence. We confirm that we are setting the right processes to investigate the matter and see what can be done to solve the problem."

However Mxotwa warned that the dispute could not be solved overnight.

He said disputes among beneficiaries were common in land claims where many people were involved.

In 2007 the Richtersveld community was awarded a massive claim that included a strip of diamond-bearing land on the coast below the Gariep River.

However it has since been riven by a leadership struggle, allegations of mismanagement and a string of court actions.

The request for a mediator was sent to Nkwinti last week in the name of the Richtersveld Communal Property Association (CPA).

Community leader Willem Diergaardt said in the letter that the CPA did not understand how it was possible that the government, which regarded land restitution as such a high priority, could "simply ignore our calls for help".

"We call on you and plead with you to assist our community by appointing an independent mediator who could assist us in resolving the disputes in our community," he said.