Squatters invade land while claim drags on
Hazyview - A protracted land claim involving two tribal authorities in Mpumalanga has resulted in an invasion by squatters.
It's been 14 years since the Injaka-Waterval Community Property Association laid claim to two pieces of land, including Injaka 267 KU, which has been invaded, in Marite near Hazyview.
CPA chairperson Enos Mkhonto said Injaka was one of the areas that the South African government bought from white farmers after 1994 so that dispossessed communities could claim it back.
"After 1994, the government bought the land from the white farmers who forcefully evicted the original settlers in the area. Now we are waiting for the outcome of the land claims in order to establish the ownership of the land," said Mkhonto.
He said the before white farmers settled in the area, the land was owned by members of the current Mathibela tribal authority.
Mathibela tribal authority spokesperson Shanke Mokoena said his ancestors settled in Injaka between the 1400s and 1600s until the apartheid government forcefully removed them in 1940.
"Between 1940 and 1972 all our people had already left the area to make way for farming development. The graves of my ancestors are all there," said Mokoena.
Leader of the Mathibela tribal authority, chief Lameck Mokoena, told African Eye News Service that unknown people were selling plots to people who have now started erecting structures on the land.
"I don't even know the name of the people who are selling my land, [but] I am ready to organise my people to evict them," he said.
The chief warned those who had already erected structures to remove them or face forceful eviction.
He also warned that none of the "illegal" occupants would receive services from government because the land was not included in the municipality's Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
"There will be no service delivery on that part of the land because it does not appear in the IDP. If we let these people build their houses, after some years they will start protesting and demanding service delivery," said Mokoena.
Mokoena added that some government officials had promised to protect the land, but failed to do so.
"One of the officials from the government promised me that they would protect our land [from invasion], but they never did. These people continue to erect their structures without my permission," he said.
Zida Mashele, 53, one of the land claimants, said the claimant group was ready to evict any squatters once the land claim is been settled.
"I don't understand why these people are building on our land. After winning back our land we will forcefully remove them. I was shocked when I passed there and saw people erecting structures in the land of my ancestors," said Mashele.
National spokesperson for the department of rural development and land reform, Eddie Mohoebi, confirmed the land was under claim.
"I can confirm that the land in question has been claimed. I therefore advise the people not to invade the land pending the outcome of the claim," said Mohoebi.
Bushbuckridge municipal spokesperson Matome Malatjie urged the squatters to stop building their houses there.
"You can't predict the results of the commission, therefore, we highly recommend that people should wait until they are sure about the ownership of the land they are about to occupy.
They should make sure that they inform the municipality before moving in," said Malatjie.
Another tribal authority, the Kgarudi tribal authority, is contesting the claim.
Some of the so-called squatters said they had bought plots from officials at the Kgarudi Tribal Authority, led by Chief Steven Mogane.
Spokesperson for the Kgarudi tribal authority, Henry Maboa, denied that people were being allotted plots.
"I know that the land you are talking about belongs to us, but I know nothing about the sale of plots. We have the papers to prove that the land is ours," said Maboa.
Maboa said the apartheid government gave them authority over the land between 1912 and 1925.
Maboa said he was struggling to fax AENS documents proving their ownership of the land.