- The illegal occupation of land resulting from fraudulent sales is a growing concern in Polokwane.
- Police are investigating a fraud case involving millions of rand.
- The case centres on the long-running illegal occupation of a farm in Dalmada, near Polokwane.
Almost 200 people are set to collectively lose millions of rand and their properties after falling victim to an alleged land scam on a privately owned farm in Dalmada, just outside Polokwane, in Limpopo.
The situation is already volatile on Portion 41 of the farm Kalkfontein 1001LS, which has since been unofficially renamed Morena Seaka View by the occupiers.
The situation is now characterised by intermittent clashes between security guards of the landowner Blue Dot Properties and the occupiers, represented by the Morena Seaka Home Owners' Association, which sold residential sites to them.
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.
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.
However, the land claim has not been settled because of disputes that arose among the four clans.
In 2015, the Mojapelo traditional authority started to demarcate and sell residential sites on Portion 41 of the Kalkfontein farm.
Blue Dot Properties then approached the Limpopo High Court, which declared the occupation illegal and issued an eviction order. The Constitutional Court also declared the occupation illegal in 2017 in a separate matter, this time involving the office of the minister of rural development and land reform.
A senior member of the Mojapelo traditional authority, Francina Ngwanamaredi Sebati, said the occupation was started in agreement with the Polokwane municipality and land authorities as a "protection settlement".
Sebati, who is also the head of the Morena Seaka Home Owners' Association at the forefront of demarcation and selling of sites, said the municipality encouraged the formation of the association for communication.
"There was dispute with other clans which illegally occupied adjacent land. So we agreed with the municipality that we'll occupy our ancestral land to act as a buffer zone for other settlements not to encroach into the city. The municipality never said the land was privately owned," Sebati said.
She denied the money paid by the occupiers was for the selling of sites.
"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.
However, documents seen by News24 show the initial price for a site was R2 500 before shooting up to R120 000 in 2019.
The money was either paid in cash or deposited into Absa bank account number 9307465988. By the end of 2019, more than R3.8 million was collected.
Polokwane municipal spokesperson Thipa Selala said the municipality had nothing to do with the illegal occupation.
"That land is privately owned. The municipality is not involved," Selala said.
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform provincial spokesperson Avhashoni Magada referred News24 to an earlier statement.
It stated that the occupation was illegal, and the demarcation and selling of sites was fraudulent. A criminal case has been opened with the police.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed a case of fraud was being investigated in connection with the selling of sites.
"There is no arrest yet pending finalisation of police investigation," he said.
Floyd Legodi, Blue Dot Properties' attorney, said the company acquired the land for R14 535 000 in 2010.
"The site is perfectly and permissibly privately owned, and has been in private hands even before it was acquired by Blue Dot," Legodi said.
He said the illegal occupation was not done by a destitute community but was "the work of a criminal syndicate motivated by financial gain".
"The company will not be evicting residents yet, but in due course will afford them an opportunity to regularise their otherwise unlawful and illegal occupation by complying with the company's financial demands," Legodi said.
The illegal occupation of land in Polokwane is fast becoming a common feature, with city mayor Thembi Nkadimeng calling on people to first verify with authorities before buying sites.