Zintaba Khawula, 70, shows his delight after receiving his voucher during a land claim settlement meeting. Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA Pictures

Durban – South Coast land claimants have been warned to manage their financial windfall wisely after receiving compensation at an event at the weekend.

About 200 claimants, with more than 1 000 beneficiaries whose families were removed from the Umzinto area during forced removals, received about R221 000 each as cash compensation in a land claim settlement worth a total of R65 million.

It was not immediately clear when they were removed, but they are believed to have lived in the area around 1912.

They launched their bid for compensation under the Vernon Crookes (Mnyengelezi) community land claim 18 years ago.

The office of the KZN Provincial Land Claims Commissioner said there had been too many reports of claimants misusing their money.

The community had to take financial compensation after failing to regain rights to their original land, which is now a conservation area.

They also struggled to find suitable land they could buy.

Giving out the financial vouchers on Saturday, KwaZulu-Natal chief director, Land Restitution Support, Bheki Mbili said they had heard horror stories of claimants squandering their money.

“Some land claimants travel by taxi. One claimant who had been paid got into a taxi and was the first passenger. He told the driver to drive off with empty seats and he would pay for them."

“We are saying you must look after this money. Do not buy things you do not need. You must remember that money can get used up quickly.”

Nomfundo Nhloko-Gobodo, chief Land Claims commissioner said: “You have heard of Flagstaff (Eastern Cape). We went there and settled a claim worth R90 million. We heard the claimants were drinking the whole month after that."

“We urge you to use this money carefully. This settlement is an attempt by government to restore your dignity. You must use this money to develop your families, educate children and create legacies.” Nhloko-Gobodo told The Mercury their ability to give financial advice to claimants was limited once the claims are paid.

She said there was a partnership with banks, which could advise claimants on how to manage and save their money.

Mzikayifani Ngcobo, deputy chairperson of the Mnyengelezi claim, said they had been taken for financial management training.

“We were trained for three weeks and have taken that knowledge to the community.” One of the beneficiaries said she would use her money to build a house. “I want to build a house for my child and my grandchildren.”

Zintaba Khawula said: “I will save the money because I do not know what tomorrow holds and might need it in the future.”

He said he was not completely happy with the settlement.

“I wanted land to farm and keep cattle.” Zamokwakhe Myeza, who lodged the claim on behalf of the community, said: “We wanted land, but we could not find it. Money can be used up and be finished, but land never finishes."

“I urge those who will be settling their claims in the future to choose land,” said Myeza.

The Mercury