Man still waits for land claim

2012-02-13 00:00

AN elderly man in Sweetwaters fears he could die before his land claim is settled.

Part of the property 73-year-old Ephrahim Mbanjwa has in his sights is none other than the one that made headlines when it was illegally “grabbed” last year.

Mbanjwa said all he had to show for his efforts was a receipt.

He said: “The only thing to date that was ever communicated in writing by the local office of the Rural Development and Land Reform [was a] receipt acknowledging the claim.”

Mbanjwa insisted that he had followed the correct procedures to claim Lot 106 and Lot 109 at Sweetwaters.

Asked why he had not spoken out about his claim when the land was illegally “grabbed” in October, Mbanjwa said he did not want to be part of that drama, having already followed the correct procedures.

The 73-year-old added: “I did not want to be associated with those people in case they had wanted to use me.”

He said his grandfather had occupied the land under the chieftaincy of Inkosi Tetelegu Zondi.

Nsikayezwe Zondi, who is Zondi’s great-grandson, and is the present inkosi, said last year that he too had put in a land claim for the property.

“We did apply for the land claim of that area, but were shocked to learn that the Land Claims Commission does not have our application on record,” Zondi said.

Mbanjwa stressed that his claim was separate to Zondi’s.

The present inkosi also spoke out against the way the land was “grabbed” illegally.

A court order prohibited businessman Philani Bha Ndlovu from continuing with his alleged selling of plots on land officially owned by agronomist Rusty Roodt.

Court papers said he claimed the land belonged to the Ngonyama Trust and the Zulu people.

Mbanjwa said his grandfather, Mdungazwe Mbanjwa, had occupied the land until he was forcibly removed in 1918 through enactment of the discriminatory laws of the white regime.

“The said community was part of the Mpumuza community under the chieftaincy of Inkosi Tetelegu Zondi,” said Mbanjwa.

He said people who lived in the area occupied the two lots, mostly for cattle grazing and farming, and that it all belonged to the community.

“I am an old man now and I have fears of what would eventually happen to this land after I die because I want to see the process finished before I leave this world,” said Mbanjwa.

He said he had gone above the heads of the local Rural Development and Land Reform office by asking Minister Gugile Nkwinti to intervene.

The Witness has a copy of this letter and the national department confirmed receiving it, but did not elaborate further.

Deputy manager for communication for Local Rural Development and Land Reform, Nokuthokoza Ndlela, said the process of settling claims was long and complex.

Each claim was unique in all stages from research to settlements.

“The department did acknowledge receipt of Mr Mbanjwa’s claim, and has had numerous meetings with him in order to finalise his claim.”

Mbanjwa denied this.

Ndlela added: “The process includes conducting research in order to determine whether the claim meet the requirements or not.”

She confirmed that the case was under investigation.

The validity of a land claim is determined by:

• A person/community having been dispossessed of a right in land after June 19, 1913 through racially discriminatory laws/practices.

• The claim for such restitution being lodged by December 31, 1998.

The offices of the commission are determined by the minister in terms of section 4 (2) of the Restitution Act.

The offices of the commission are entrusted with the responsibility of processing claims. Claimants are updated frequently through their engagements with the project officers.

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