A wealthy businessperson received a state farm as a “beneficiary” after the previous occupier – a black farmer who successfully farmed there for eight years – was removed from the property.
Luyolo Makaula (53), who is from Kokstad in KwaZulu-Natal, recently added this piece of land to his already considerable property portfolio, after Vuyani Zigana, a stock farmer, was removed by the state.
City Press’ sister publication, Rapport, last week reported that the 54-year-old Zigana was accused of trespassing on land he had been granted the right to farm and his stock was also attached after years of painstakingly building up his herds.
Zigana has been financially ruined by the court cases through which he attempted to get the land back and the auction of almost all of his livestock to pay execution costs.
Zigana was appointed as a “caretaker farmer” at the farm, named Groove Park, between Kokstad and Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.
He started small, but eventually ended up with a significant herd of cattle, and flocks of sheep and goats. He also constructed feeding kraals and breeding camps. Zigana and his family lived on the farm and were entirely self-sufficient.
However, in December, and on instruction from officials from the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, he was arrested for “trespassing”.
He said officials from the department contacted him shortly before his arrest and said he needed to apply for a lease for the farm. Zigana did this, but the application was almost immediately denied.
Eventually, he lost most of his cattle, because they were auctioned in February to pay the R70 000 in execution costs. Court cases to try to get the 743-hectare farm back have already cost him a further R80 000.
Rapport has since established that Groove Park was awarded to Makaula. The Rapport journalist initially contacted Makaula on the supposition that he was interested in purchasing the farm, after which he identified himself.
“Yes, the farm Groove Park belongs to the state, but has been awarded to me. I’m going to farm nuts on it,” Makaula said.
Asked why a farm purchased to advance land reform was given to somebody who already had various farms and fixed property, Makaula said he wanted to live on Groove Park.
“People may think I’m rich, but I worked for what I have,” he said.
According to deeds office records, Makaula already owns two farms: Rondefontein in KwaZulu-Natal and Settlement near Matatiele.
A third farm, Rooipoort, which is located near Kokstad, is registered in the name of Loyisa Consulting & Projects, a closed corporation of which Makaula is one of three directors.
Rooipoort was purchased in 2012 for R11.3 million and financed by Ithala Bank, the former development agency of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, which is now being operated as a state bank.
Makaula also has homes in Pietermaritzburg, Matatiele and Mount Frere.
“He is one of the richest residents in the region, and also has business interests in Pietermaritzburg and in North West,” said a resident of Kokstad, who did not want to be identified.
The source also claimed that Makaula was close friends with a senior ANC official in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality.
Zigana’s plight has already been brought to the attention of Thoko Didiza, the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, on two occasions – by the African Independent Congress’ Lulama Ntshayisa and, last month, by the DA’s Annette Steyn.
Didiza last month undertook to investigate the matter, but all that came of this was that the same officials who removed him from the farm arrived and wanted to know “what his problem” was.
After Rapport last week reported on this issue, the wheels suddenly began to turn. Zigana said two officials from the office of the director-general of agriculture, land reform and rural development paid a visit to him at his temporary residence in Matatiele.
“They wanted to know everything and wanted to see all my documentation in respect of the farm. When they were leaving, they said they were going to speak to Makaula and hand over a report to the director-general on Monday. The director-general seemingly has a meeting with minister Didiza about the matter on Wednesday,” said Zigana.
According to the parliamentary programme, Didiza is meant to answer questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Reggie Ngcobo, Didiza’s spokesperson, has confirmed that investigators from the department were sent to Pretoria to look into the issue.
“They will present a report to the minister when their investigation is finalised. They are still in KwaZulu-Natal for the investigation.”