Land claimants hijack truck, barricade main road

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal land claimants who threatened to evict a farm manager earlier this week, hijacked a truck and blocked the Muden-Greytown road on Wednesday in a move to force the government to settle their 10-year-old claim to the farm.

The chairman of the Umvoti Farmers’ Association, Andy Mason, said the claimants dug a “waist-deep” trench in the road and hijacked a truck delivering bottled water to Greytown.

“They stole the diesel from the truck, the battery and some of the driver’s possessions,” he said.

Jeffrey Ngobese, a spokesman for the Zibambeleni community, confirmed the blockade.

Ngobese said that until the community had title to the land, it could not apply for basic services from the municipality.

“They (the government) don’t seem to have an appetite to resolve this thing. It is only if we remind them. Then they will do something,” he said.

Mason said the road was reopened at midday after police from Pietermaritzburg and farmers moved in to repair the damage.

The claimants have also lodged a labour tenant application.

They hijacked and torched a bread delivery van and a water tanker in August. Before that, they had blockaded the road for three months.

On Monday, Martin Platt, who works as a manager for farm owner Brian Corbishley, was threatened with eviction by a group who blockaded the entrance to the farm.

They demanded that Platt vacate the property by Friday.

Platt declined to say whether he would leave the farm.

SAPS spokesman Jay Naicker said that a case of intimidation had been opened at the Greytown police station and a docket was sent to the public prosecutor on Wednesday. He said police were monitoring the situation.

The dispute started when Corbishley bought the property in 1993.

He said 61 people were living “illegally” on the farm at that time. Between 1993 and 1995, he said, alternative land was offered to the community, which they refused. Since then the community has grown to more than 300.

In the interim, the enactment of the Labour Tenants Act has offered the community protection.

Corbishley has said research had proved the group are not eligible for tenant rights.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs recognised the community as labour tenants, said spokesman Sipho Dlamini.

Negotiations took place between the head of the provincial planning commission, Cyril Xaba, and the roleplayers, late last year. Two offers were made to Corbishley by the department, which he refused.

In the statement, Corbishley said he was not a willing seller.

The Mercury

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