King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: Archives/Siyasanga Mbambani
King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: Archives/Siyasanga Mbambani

Ingonyama Trust in new land dispute

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Dec 1, 2020

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Durban - A dispute over the ownership of tribal land in northern KwaZulu-Natal is brewing between the Ingonyama Trust Board and a foundation claiming to be the rightful owner of the contested land.

Residents of Amajuba District Municipality, who have been snapping up pieces of land from the Malangeni Royal Foundation (MRF), have been warned by the Ingonyama Trust that they risk losing their money or being evicted from their “illegally” acquired land.

The trust, which holds millions of hectares of land in KwaZulu-Natal on behalf of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, had an advert in a newspaper yesterday where it accused the foundation of scamming residents in Osizweni and Madadeni by selling them land that they don’t have the legal rights to.

However, the foundation refused to back down, insisting that it was the rightful owner of the land in question and that no residents would be evicted.

The advert was published in The Mercury’s sister newspaper, Isolezwe. In it the trust warned residents not to put their money into the “scam”.

“Communities must not put their money in things they know less about, which are also scams, just like Malangeni Royal Foundation. This is fraud. If you have deposited your money in their account, you have lost that money.

“Those who are found in the Ingonyama Trust land with the permission of these criminals, will be punished and removed for good,” reads the advertisement.

Ingonyama Trust Board chairperson, Jerome Ngwenya confirmed that they had issued the warning, saying criminal cases had been opened against the foundation.

According to information on social media, which has also been confirmed by the foundation, sites in Osizweni and Madadeni were for sale from R5 000 to R15 000 each.

After the trust’s advert yesterday, confusion reigned among those who had already purchased land, wanted to purchase, and those who had built houses on the land.

Foundation chairperson Khushulwayo Dlamini urged communities to ignore the trust’s warning, as the matter was being dealt with.

Dlamini assured residents that no structure would be demolished, they would not be removed, and reaffirmed that the land belongs to the Nkosi chieftain.

According to Dlamini, the land has been under the Nkosi clan for centuries and for more than 12 years they had been gathering information to properly claim what is theirs.

He said that they were in possession of all the proper documentation confirming that the land belongs to them, and were ready for anyone who wanted to dispute that.

“If someone has an issue or claims that we don’t own the land, they must go to court with all their documents, and we shall meet there. We have been for years gathering pieces of information and sorting out paperwork for this,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini said they had written to the Trust, Newcastle Municipality, the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, calling for engagements, without any success.

“We wanted to sit down with all these stakeholders to plot a way forward on how best we can work together. In the meantime, we are still selling sites and we are still going to be doing that, as we know we have the right to do so. Whoever has an issue, they must get in touch with us with their proof.”

An MRF member, who asked not to be named, claimed that the trust’s latest move was meant to instil fear in communities.

“All of this because we want to stand on our own. We won't be under anyone’s wing. If they have opened a case against the chief, then we will meet in court,” he said.

KZN Cogta spokesperson Senzo Mzila said that the department was not aware of the dispute and had not received any formal communication on it.

Mzila said the department would, however, follow up with the relevant parties on the nature of the dispute.

The Mercury

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