News24

Richtersveld claim 'hijacked'

2010-06-08 18:21

Cape Town - People with "no altruistic motives" were trying to hijack the Richtersveld land claim, community representatives said on Tuesday.

They were reacting to last week's Northern Cape High Court ruling rejecting a bid to have the community's farms placed under judicial management.

In a statement, the Richtersveld Sida !Hub Communal Property Association (CPA) said the allegations in the application were based largely on a lack of knowledge and a "careless failure to verify... facts".

The application was brought by a firm of agricultural consultants which claimed it was owed R45 000 for its services - a claim the association denied.

"The committee of the CPA is convinced and has proof that third parties with no altruistic motives are attempting to hijack the success of the land claim and the assets intended for the benefit of the community of the Richtersveld," it said.

It said it was a pity that the consultants, the Pan African Agricultural Business Development Institute (PAABDI), had allowed themselves "to become a vehicle in furtherance of this objective".

It said its agricultural arm Agrico rejected PAABDI's allegations of mismanagement and nepotism.

It said before they were handed over to the community in terms of the Richtersveld land claim settlement, state diamond mining company Alexkor had operated the farms as an extension of its mining operations.

As a result, the farms were subsidised by the mining operations.

"The lack of viability of the farming operations was therefore not a matter which Agrico was aware of at the time of transfer of the farming operations to Agrico."

"The dairy, ostrich and oyster operations result in a total monthly loss of R155 000 for Agrico."

"It is for the very purpose of turning Agrico into a successful farming operation that its operations are being scaled down."

The steps taken by Agrico in order to achieve this purpose were the steps which any reasonable commercial farmer in Agrico's position would have taken.