Land: 15-year battle over for Howick groups

2013-01-21 00:00

AFTER waiting for more than 15 years, two Howick communities have finally got their title deeds, while 113 Shafton beneficiaries received R2 513 900 to share among themselves.

The title deeds were handed over by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on Saturday. The communities, represented by Linwood and Madlala trusts, spent more than 15 years fighting for their land.

Linwood Trust chairperson Muziwanele Ngubane said it was sad that some of the claimants were not there to celebrate with them.

“We are interested in becoming producers and we want to be part of the KwaZulu-Natal economic development. Even though it took us so long to get what belongs to us, we are grateful to all who were involved in making it a success. I am the third chairperson of this trust. Those before me died.

“We plan to work very closely with Mondi in the next 20 years so that they can transfer all the necessary farming skills to us,” said Ngubane. The paper manufacturing and forestry company has agreed to rent the land from the trusts. Mondi representative Morris Makhathini promised the company would support the land claimants in acquiring farm management skills.

Mandlakayise Sibiya of the Shafton community said it had not been easy to recover land that had belonged to their fathers.

“We claimed in 1995 and the department changed staff members, which made things difficult for us.” The Shafton community said they opted for the cash as they had become used to life in town.

uMngeni Mayor Mbali Myeni said more than 266 households on 10 farms had been connected to the electricity at a cost of R4,6 million. “The days of preparing wood fires resulting to unnecessary house fires are over. The municipality is also assisting these communities by partially paying for a certain amount of their electricity as they get some free electricity. We are happy that even farmers allowed this to happen in their farms,” said Myeni.

Rural Development and Land Reform Deputy Minister Lechesa Tsenoli said the government had paid more than R60 million to acquire the farms and facilitating the land claims.

MEC Ina Cronjé said she had intervened in the process, which had been causing a lot of resentment and hardship among farm dwellers.

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