Deputy Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha Picture: @DRDLR_online/Twitter
Rural Development and Land Reform Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha pleaded with beneficiaries of the Ndabeni Communal Property Trust to resolve their internal issues amicably yesterday.

Skwatsha met with the community to address issues of infighting, beneficiary disputes and questions around the legitimacy of the board of trustees, delaying reimbursement for beneficiaries.

The land in question, with a value of more than R300 million, was awarded 16 years ago to people forcefully removed from Ndabeni.

Because the land in Ndabeni had already been developed, government instead awarded the claimants 54.8ha of land in Wingfield along the N7.

During the meeting yesterday, concerns were raised over the sale of the land for R106m. The beneficiaries claimed this was far less than its value and that the board of trustees did not have the mandate to sell the land.

Skwatsha told the gathering that the Master of the High Court would appoint an independent interim trustee to oversee the governance of the trust, but was still awaiting a legal opinion before any appointment was made.

“We know the trustee’s time has lapsed. The courts are also questioning how the trustees were appointed,” said Skwatsha. “There was no way we could allow expensive land to be sold for R107m,” he said, to loud applause.

He said his department would look at ways to assist the beneficiaries.

“You will never be able to move forward if you fight among yourselves. There must be unity. You must decide what you do with the land and we will give you resources,” Skwatsha said.

Beneficiary Nosipho Sibhaca said: “We have been fighting for far too long.” But she disagreed with the appointment of an independent trustee, saying there were members within the community who could oversee the trust.