Land battle: Polokwane mayor told us to occupy farm, home owners' association tells High Court

Polokwane Municipality executive mayor Thembi Nkadimeng.
Polokwane Municipality executive mayor Thembi Nkadimeng.
Judas Sekwela
  • The Morena Seaka Home Owners' Association has approached the Polokwane High Court to have its members declared the lawful occupiers of a farm in Dalmada.
  • News24 previously reported that the association faced claims it illegally sold plots of land to some of the occupiers.
  • Blue Dot Properties, which owns the land and is opposing the association's application, previously secured an order declaring the occupation illegal.

More than 200 residents who have since been declared illegal occupiers of a farm in Dalmada outside Polokwane, Limpopo, have launched a High Court application to force the private owner to surrender the land.

The residents have occupied Portion 41 of the Kalkfontein farm for a number of years. They have since renamed Portion 41 Morena Seaka View.

Under the banner of the Morena Seaka Home Owners' Association (MSHOA), the residents argue that the current land owner, Blue Dot Properties, has ruined their undisturbed and peaceful possession of the farm.

An affidavit deposed by the association's director Franscina Ngwanamaredi Sebati details how the land came to be occupied until their "undisturbed and peaceful possession" was disrupted by Blue Dot.

READ HERE | Lockdown: Land occupation will not be tolerated - Sisulu

She said after a successful claim of the entire Kalkfontein farm, the Rural Development and Land Reform Department invoked section 34 of the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994 on Portion 41 of the farm.

Section 34 allows for any "national, provincial or local government body" to apply to the Land Claims Court "for an order that the land in question or any rights in it shall not be restored to any claimant or prospective claimant" for land which is owned by an arm of government or falls within its jurisdiction.

"The property was transferred into the name of Tebcon Developers (Pty) Ltd in 2001.

"We were advised that Tebcon will develop the said land on behalf of the community. They assured us that from the development, we were going to get shares, royalties, priorities for employment and board membership.

"Nothing happened until we heard that the land has been sold to Blue Dot," Sebati said in the affidavit.

READ | Call in police and crime intelligence on land occupations - Human Rights Commission

She said after occupations on adjacent portions of land, a meeting was held with Polokwane executive mayor Thembi Nkadimeng.

"[S]he advised we should take physical possession of the land and build on it to prevent illegal invasion. She even hinted that we should keep in mind that our land is on a prime spot," Sebati said.

It was then that residential stands were demarcated on the land.

READ | Preying on the poor? SAPS probes multi-million rand fraud case linked to illegal farm occupation

Sebati said an official of the provincial cooperative governance, human settlement and traditional affairs department also visited and encouraged their occupation.

However, the matter came to a head when Blue Dot moved to effect an eviction order which the company obtained from the Limpopo High Court. The Constitutional Court also declared the occupation illegal in 2017 in a separate matter, this time involving the office of the rural development and land reform minister.

Blue Dot is opposing the current matter in court.

In court papers, its director Gregory Mofokeng said the association did not allege and prove that it was in peaceful and undisturbed possession of the land.

"[T]here are court orders which have declared the applicant and others as unlawful occupiers. The first respondent (Blue Dot) is simply implementing court orders," Mofokeng said.

READ HERE | Cape Town protests: Plea to stop evictions and land occupation as Sisulu, Plato meet

The Rural Development and Land Reform Minister, cited as the second respondent, is also opposing the matter.

However, the Polokwane municipality and its mayor were not joined in the matter.

The municipality's spokesperson Thipa Selala told News 24: "There was never a resolution by the municipality to allow occupation on that land. That land is not municipal so it is not possible that the municipality can decide on the issue."

The matter is to be heard in court at a date to be decided.

News24 previously reported that there have been intermittent clashes between Blue Dot's security guards and the occupiers.

Tension is also running high between the association and some occupiers, who are demanding title deeds or permission to occupy (PTO) documents from the association.

ALSO READ | 'Very upset' residents called Plato after Hangberg ruling, he tells Parliament

The matter dates back to when four tribal clans - Mojapelo, Mothiba, Tholongwe and Mothapo, collectively known as Mamahule - lodged a land claim under the Restitution of Land Rights Act in 1996.

The MSHOA has faced allegations that it illegally sold plots of land on the farm to some of the occupiers.

Documents seen by News24 show the initial price for a site was R2 500 before increasing to R120 000 in 2019.

However, Sebati said the money paid over to the association was not to purchase land.

"We agreed with the people that contribution would be R5 000 for clearing the area and legal costs. We never said we were selling sites," she said at the time.

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