Farmer to close school

2011-04-07 00:00

A KRANSKOP farmer wants to close a school on his land, and apply for court permission to evict the people illegally occupying the property.

The Witness is in possession of the letter sent by landowner Mphiwa Mdlalose to Mduduzi Shabane, director-general of the Department of Land and Rural Development, as well as to the head of the KZN Education Department, Nkosinathi Sishi.

Mdlalose states that he will close the 500-pupil Vusa Isizwe school down with immediate effect.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Mdlalose said the school was built by the Education Department without consultation with him. He said he has tried to get the two departments to buy the land, to no avail.

“My hands are tied. I can’t do what I want on my property and the government is not willing to buy the land … I don’t want children deprived of education, but I feel that I have done my part. I’m certain that I have shown patience as a progressive citizen but I’m now forced to do what is legally [permissible],” Mdlalose told The Witness.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a teacher at the school said Vusa Isizwe has been running since 2000. The closest other school is about five kilometres away.

Mdlalose inherited Ekukholweni farm from his late father, who farmed sugar cane. In 1996, he went into negotiations with Mondi to farm gumtrees. It was during these negotiations, when the 33 hectares of land remained unfarmed, that people started illegally occupying the land.

“I have had many discussions with the director-general of Land and Rural development Mdu Shabane and I have personally approached the minister, Gugile Nkwinti. I have even liaised with the legal adviser in the Department of Education.”

Since writing to the department on Monday, Mdlalose said the department requested a meeting with him this week, but no had set this up by yesterday.

Khaye Nkwanyane, the general secretary for the ANC’s Harry Gwala region, which includes Kranskop, said the matter is worrying and they, together with SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) will be looking at how it can be handled.

Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the department is still negotiating with the farm owner, but is confident the matter can be resolved.

Sadtu leaders in the area could not be reached for comment.

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