The affordable education loan option
Durban - Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti will ask a court on Tuesday to rule that his department acted unlawfully by settling a R600-million land claim in 2009.
The deal gave rise to KwaZulu-Natal’s now-stalled R10-billion Blythedale Coastal Resort development.
The hearing, set down for four days, gets under way before Judge AJ Sardiwalla in the Durban land claims court, with agricultural experts saying that if Nkwinti and the land claimants succeed in getting the transaction cancelled, the ruling could cast doubt on all land claim agreements approved by the government since 1998.
Nkwinti has accused the former minister of agriculture, Lulu Xingwana, and acting head of the former Department of Land Reform, Blessing Mphela - who approved the 3 800-hectare deal - of acting “unlawfully” in rubber-stamping what former housing minister Lindiwe Sisulu hailed as “a landmark deal and a blueprint for housing development”.
The more than 1 000 claimants are also asking the court to set aside a deal with KwaZulu-Natal developer Mark Taylor, claiming the implications of the transaction were not fully explained to them when they signed it.
They have asked the court to return their title and cancel the development agreement, which promised free houses and thousands of jobs.
They are asking the court to force Xingwana to honour a promise, which they allege she made in 2009, that each claimant would get a cash payment of R10 000 to tide them over while the deal was being concluded.
In court papers, the claimants, better known as the Zwelabantu Dube Communal Property Association, have also asked Judge Sardiwalla to consider whether the settlement of their land claim by the government, in terms of section 42D of the Restitution of Land Rights Act, was constitutional.
Taylor faces some anxious investors and creditors who have now turned to the courts to get their money back after the resort development stalled last year.
Jabulani Mabaso, a spokesman for the community, has suggested that out-of-court settlements pursued by Taylor and former landowner Patrick Sokhela are not “close” to the relief they are seeking from the court.
Agri-SA, Kwanalu and SA Canegrowers say they are keeping a watch on the court proceedings as the outcome could shake investor confidence.
“If Nkwinti is able to undo something his predecessor approved, that is of concern to us,” said Agri-SA’s legal and policy adviser Annelize Crosby.
The clan laid claim to the properties after Taylor’s development company, Elan, made a bid for it in 2005 to build an upmarket golf estate.
At the time the provincial land claims unit, led by Duduzile Sosibo, who was later suspended for “wilfully mismanaging the finances of the state” and contravening the public service code of conduct”, confirmed in a letter to Taylor that there were no claims against the land.