Land for farming, not homes

2013-02-05 00:00

WEMBEZI residents who tried to invade an Estcourt farm over the weekend hoping that it would be allocated to them for housing, were never told that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has earmarked the land for chicken farming.

The community, who say they are desperate for houses, said yesterday that they are giving the department two months to purchase the Greystone Farm so that housing can be established there for them.

The community had tried to invade the farm and stake their claim to build shacks on Sunday, but the farm owner, Hilton Moor, and the police diffused the situation.

Yesterday, Moor with representatives of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Umtshezi local municipality, gathered in an open field at the farm to hear the community’s grievances.

After having learned that the land had been earmarked for farming, Busisiwe Mhlongo, a community leader, said they will not allow any farming to take place when people have no houses.

Mhlongo said during the political violence between the IFP and ANC in their area in the 1980s, they were forced to occupy other people’s homes after fleeing for their lives.

But now the owners of the houses were evicting them.

“If they say this land is for farming they must show us which land is for houses.

“If they don’t, we’ll build our shacks anyway,” Mhlongo threatened.

“If there’s any chicken farming, we’ll make sure that we eat all these chickens for free because we’re hungry and we don’t have houses,” she added.

Flora Miya (59) said she was also kicked out from where she was living and was in need of a home.

“I’ve been suffering for years. Owning my own house will make me so happy.

“I could sleep until nine in the morning knowing that I’ve got a place I can call my own,” said Miya.

Nomusa Ncolwane (59) said she bought an RDP house for R12 000, but now the owner wanted her and her family out.

Sizwe Khumalo said that 19 people live under one roof at his home.

He said they had been applying for a low cost house for years, but had been sent from pillar to post.

“Even if they build us a two-room house, [we would be happy],” Khumalo pleaded.

Mgababa Dlamini said: “We’re asking for this land because it’s not being used anymore. We can’t build houses in the air when God has given us land.”

Moor said an offer was made to buy his 264 hectares of land for R7 million in 2007 and he accepted it.

However, there had been delays from the department’s side.

“I still have documentation dating back from 2006 and 2007,” said Moor, adding that for three years he had not planted mealies on his land.

“This land has good soil for farming.”

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Rural Development and Land Reform spokesperson Sipho Dlamini said Moor’s farm has been earmarked for a group of women who were interested in chicken farming and not for human settlement.

He said his department was still in discussions with the landowner about the price.

Dlamini said a condition the department had for buying land for houses was that the municipality must have capital to build those homes.

Elphas Dladla, director of planning at Umtshezi, said they had identified a lot of vacant sites within the township of Wembezi.

He said they will identify all the sites and accommodate 35 residents whose situations were dire.

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