Govt wants to take land for schools

2013-09-02 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education is going ahead with plans to expropriate the land on which Oakfield Primary in Verulam and its neighbouring school Sacred Hearts High are situated.

There has been an ongoing strife between landowner Professor Marius Maritz and the department. Maritz has locked the main entrance to the schools, forcing the department to provide transport to get the pupils to a second gate two kilometres away.

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu yesterday addressed the Verulam community at Osindisweni sports ground on the issue. He said expropriation was an appropriate move, considering Maritz’s attitude and the disruption of learning and teaching.

“We’re at the stage where we are wanting an evaluator to reconsider the issues they didn’t consider last year [when they started the process],” Mchunu said.

He said government, together with the Amaqadi Traditional Council, needed to consider filing a new claim on the land. It would be based on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill of 2013, which has re-opened the existing land restitution process and extended the deadline for lodging to December 2018.

He said the original owners of the land were the Amaqadi Traditional Council.

The department is heading to the high court on Thursday to legally force Maritz to open the gates at the school and has asked the community to pray outside the gate on that day.

According to Mchunu, the land evaluator estimated that the land, which also houses a clinic and old age home, to be worth R112 million. But apparently Maritz bought the land on which the schools stand from the Roman Catholic Church for about R3 million.

Mchunu has called for an investigation on this matter. He noted that it would be “foolish” for the department to buy back the land at such an exorbitant price.

Inkosi Mqoqi Ngcobo of the Amaqadi clan said the landowner does not care for black people in the area and added that the land needed to be returned to its people.

Attempts yesterday to get a comment from Maritz were unsuccessful.

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