Govt calls for land claimants’ patience

2010-12-07 00:00

LYDIA Johnson, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, yesterday urged land claimants — most of who are irked by the delays of several years standing in their land settlements — to remain calm while the department and the land claims commission move to settle their claims.

Johnson was addressing land claimants in the Hluhluwe Corridor, where she was speaking on behalf of the National Land Claims commissioner Sibusiso Gamede.

The Hluhluwe Corridor land claimants received a financial settlements in lieu of land, after the land they had claimed was deemed a protected conservation area.

The department made financial settlements to each member to compensate them for the loss of their ancestral land.

At least 1 117 families each received a voucher of R10 000.

Nokuthokoza Ndlela, spokesperson for the KZN Land Claims Commission, said the MEC urged other communities whose members were still waiting for their claims to be settled, to exercise restraint and not engage in any criminal behaviour while they wait for their claims to be settled.

Johnson’s call comes after recent reports revealed that the long wait for claims to be settled had led to escalation of tensions in the Ndumo Nature Reserve on the Mozambican border.

It was recently reported that communities next to Ndumo had invaded the nature reserve, damaged some of its structures and others were trying to farm inside the reserve, thereby damaging the environment.

Ndlela said by settling the Hluhluwe Corridor claims the department and the commission had avoided another showdown with the community members.

“Promises to settle the claim were made in 2007 and now it is 2010. The community had obviously grown tired of waiting and the situation was already very tense.

“The long wait had aggravated the community members to the point where we were receiving threats of demonstrations.”

She said the Hluhluwe Corridor claimants were however satisfied with their settlements.

“There are still other outstanding claims that the departments hopes to settle by January and February next year.”

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