Govt delays spur Channing, Gujini conflict

2010-11-18 00:00

CONFUSION over a final land settlement between farmer Peter Channing and the Gujini community in Muden, near Pietermaritzburg, is threatening to increase tensions already running high in the area.

For the past several years, Channing and the Gujini community have been involved in a bruising land settlement claim and the alleged recent pronouncement made by Land Claims Commissioner Sibusiso Gamede, who visited the area this past weekend, has only contributed to the tensions.

While Channing has agreed to sell the land, the Land Claims Commission has failed to settle the claim for over ten years, due to an insufficient budget, much to the community’s frustration.

The killing of two guards last week, who were placed at Channing’s farm, is believed to be related to the land dispute.

Upon hearing of the tension in the area during his visit, Gamede resolved that the claims should be settled quickly.

Community members at the meeting claimed that Gamede had said the money owed to the farmer had to be paid by yesterday.

“When the community told of how long the claim had dragged on and the tensions in the area, the commissioner resolved that the claim should be settled quickly. He said the money would be paid by Wednesday [yesterday],” said community member Jonathan Myaka.

“He said the community would be able to move onto the farm by December as they will still have to give the farmer time to move out of the area.”

However, upon enquiring at the commissioner’s office, it has emerged that there has been a misunderstanding after the commissioner had disputed the claims.

This has threatened to increase the tensions as many people believe they now have claim to the land.

A community member, who declined to be named, said the people want Channing out and have threatened violence as they are tired of waiting.

Channing said the situation was of great concern to him as people will now stake claim to his land.

“I heard that I will be paid today [yesterday] and yet, I know nothing about it. This kind of nonsense will increase the tensions as the people will now believe they have the right to my land.”

He said he was concerned that the new situation will further increase the decade-old tensions.

Godfrey Mdluli, spokesperson of the commissioner, said the commissioner had not said the farmer would be paid out on Wednesday, but that arrangements will be made for the landowner to be paid.

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