Group claims land

2015-11-27 10:30
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Pietermaritzburg - A land row is said to be at the heart of a dispute that is threatening the “big five” private Mkuze Falls game reserve near Pongola.

A lion is said to have recently escaped and is “on the prowl” from the reserve due to a fence being cut.

This is according to papers before Judge Gregory Kruger, who granted an urgent interim interdict yesterday stopping five members of a group calling themselves the “Concerned Group” from tampering with or damaging fences belonging to Mkuze Falls.

The interim interdict also orders the five individuals — the alleged leader Nqaba Ntshangase, Nkosinathi Mthinyane, Sebenzile Ntshangase, Simon Nkambule and Musa Duma — from inciting violence or harassing members of the Ntunzana Community Trust, which derives an income from Mkuze Falls.

They have until February 5 to show why the interdict should not be confirmed.

Mkuze Falls is a private game reserve on the opposite side of the N2 from the well-known Mkuze Game Reserve, which is under the control of Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

Trustee and member of the Nkunzana Community Trust, Temba Timothy Xulu, said on affidavit the Concerned Group have given the Department of Land Affairs a deadline of November 30 to “sort out the land issues” they are aggrieved about, failing which they threatened to take the law into their own hands.

The Nkunzana Communal Property Trust was established in 2009 following a successful land claim by the Mahlongosi Community. However, the trust didn’t operate because King Goodwill Zwelithini went to court claiming that the land allocated to the trust by Land Affairs belonged to him, he said.

In 2014 an agreement was reached between the trustees of Ntunzana Trust and the Minister of Land Affairs in which the title for the land at Pongola was transferred to the trust for the benefit of 482 households.

He said “out of nowhere” the Concerned Group emerged and said they wanted to be members of Ntunzana Trust.

Xulu said, however, an investigation by Regional Land Claims Commission has found they are not members of the Ntunzana community and have no claim to the land. The group has refused to accept this.

Xulu details various incidents and allegations that Ntshangase, a sangoma, has said at public meetings she will disrupt the operations of the trust and “ensure the trustees are killed”.

Ntshangase has said the Concerned Group “will destroy Mkuze Falls game reserve”, which forms part of the Ntunzana Trust property, said Xulu.

On November 15, he received a call from the manager of the reserve who reported that a fence had been cut and “one of the lions was on the prowl”.

Xulu said although members of the Ntunzana community have been alerted, there is a risk that someone could be eaten by the lion if it is not found as soon as possible.

He said the Ntunzana community will “suffer extreme financial prejudice” if its property is destroyed or damaged as there are many developmental projects geared for the area. Members will also lose their source of income if Mkuze Falls is destroyed.

He said the game reserve has been a source of income for many families for years and if it is destroyed the livelihood of the community will be threatened.

“The conduct of the Concerned Group will also bring bad publicity to the RSA as Mkuze Falls game reserve is a tourist destination,” he added.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  land claims

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