Tala land claim success

2011-09-13 00:00

MORE than R120 million has been spent by the Land Claims Commission to purchase land, including Tala Game Reserve, for the claimant community of Nkumbuleni near Camperdown.

Tala Game Reserve was sold for R63 million as part of the deal, which was concluded in July.

The acquisition comprises 12 farms. Five of them make up Tala Game Reserve and the other seven are crop farms.

A spokesperson for the KZN Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, Nokuthokoza Sithole, confirmed that Tala will continue to function as a game reserve, despite the fact that the land now belongs to the community.

“In the spirit of sustainability and development, numerous stakeholders have been brought in to form a project steering committee, which will assist the community to implement a post- settlement and beneficiation plan.

“The plans will entail hospitality skills development training for the claimant community. However, the community is still in negotiations as they have variety of options,” Ndlela said in response to questions on the future of the game reserve.

Ndlela denied a report that Tala Game Reserve workers have been asked to vacate the premises since the success of the claim.

“Most of the workers are beneficiaries from the Nkumbuleni claimant community,” he said. “The objective is to absorb these workers into the post-settlement plan as they already have expertise in this field. They will be empowered with skills training so as to further equip them.”

Tala Game Reserve covers over 3 000 hectares between Camperdown and Eston. The natural environment is diverse and offers attractive venues.

The chairperson of the Nkumbuleni claimant community trust, Sithembiso Zungu, said the community is very happy that the land of their forefathers has finally been returned to its rightful owners and that they are optimistic that it will be “business as usual”.

This claim was submitted in 1998 and concluded 12 years later.

“We would like to thank the government for fighting for us,” said Zungu. Zungu said the former owner of Tala, Stuart Hilcove, was “co-operative, positive and likes working with us”.

Zungu (45) told The Witness that he was a young boy in the 1970s when they were moved from the area, and he can vividly remembers when a white man “who had built a company there chased my family away from the farm in 1973”, killed their cattle and demolished houses.

He said that although his father’s wish was to go back and rebuild their homes, the community understands that Tala is a business and they are willing to acquire the necessary skills to make sure that it is a success.

Hilcove confirmed that the deal has gone through and that he is in a partnership with the community of Nkumbuleni.

Zungu said, “There are 211 families that are expected to benefit from this deal and because of the forcible removals they are all scattered across KZN — some in Mophela, Sankontshe, Mkhambathini, Imbali, KwaMashu, Mpumalanga Township and others in Zululand.

“We’re all based in different areas today because of all the abuse we endured in the past.”

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