Farm wins stay order in school land row

2013-04-05 00:00

“STRONGARM tactics akin to a land grab” are being used to force a community to hand over a portion of its farm in the Greytown area for a school to be built, the high court in Pietermaritzburg has heard.

The allegation is contained in papers lodged yesterday in support of an urgent application by the Amandla Emvelo Communal Property Association, which claims ownership of the farm, Perseverance Number 16290, on the R74 road between Greytown and Kranskop.

Judge Fikile Mokgohloa granted an urgent interim interdict in chambers yesterday restraining the MEC or “agents, employees or contractors” of the KZN Department of Education, Department of Land Affairs (Ladysmith) and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform from entering or cutting down any trees on the farm.

The return date on which the parties may oppose the application is April 18.

The association says that in terms of its title deed, the farm may solely be used for timber production.

According to a letter issued by the association’s lawyers, Dawson Inc., demands for the community to hand over a portion of the land for a school for the Nsaleni community resulted in violence and “rioting” on February 22 this year.

During the incident, 90 tons of timber were burnt, young trees were cut down and the farm was “vandalised”. Gunshots were allegedly fired in the air.

The letter alleges that officials from the Department of Land Affairs arrived at the farm accompanied by surveyors, who began to survey the farm on March 22.

This is despite the fact that — except for a letter provided by Education representative Bheki Mngadi — the association’s committee had received no correspondence from the MEC for Education, Department of Land Affairs or any other government department confirming the Education Department wants to build a school on the farm.

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