R1bn luxury land deal go-ahead

2013-08-04 07:57


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Johannesburg - The government has agreed to pay R1bn to settle a land claim against one of South Africa’s most exclusive game lodges, the 5-star Mala Mala reserve in Mpumalanga.

The deal between Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti and multimillionaire Mala Mala owner Michael Rattray could pose a major setback for land reform as it will wipe out a vast chunk of the national Land Claims Commission budget for the year, reported the Sunday Times.

The Mpumalanga community that stands to benefit from the deal said that paying market value would seriously impede land reform and that it was “unfair” of government to offer Rattray so much.

But according to the newspaper, the deal looks set to go ahead. The R1bn deal involves 15 000 people who live in several villages about 5km from the Kruger National Park.

If successful the deal will dwarf all previous land claims. In the past year, government spent a total of R1.6bn nationally to buy land to settle 549 claims and the previous year less than R1bn was spent on 252 claims.

Previous reports have said that the 2 000-strong Mhlanganisweni community was removed from the area during the apartheid era. The land was first purchased by the current owners in 1964, according to the reserve's website.

Nkwinti has previously been quoted as saying that the department intended to buy the reserve, but ask the owners to stay on.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  land

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