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The battle over a R50million land claim settlement awarded to a rural community after it was forcibly removed to make way for the Wild Coast Sun hotel created by magnate Sol Kerzner, appears to have been settled.

The Land Claims Court ruled last month that it had no jurisdiction over the dispute between members and beneficiaries of the uMgungundlovu Communal Property Association (CPA), which includes the picturesque and mineral-rich Xolobeni also subjected to legal battles over mining in the area on the border between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Executive committee members of the uMgungundlovu CPA had been taken to the Land Claims Court by beneficiaries calling themselves the Concerned Land Claimants.

The claimants approached the court to stop the CPA’s executives from accessing and operating its bank account held by Nedbank and paying themselves salaries.

The claimants, who include chairperson Saziso Mndiyata, secretary Liziwe Sonjica and organiser and co-ordinator Zodwa Langazana, approached the Randburg, Joburg-based court on an urgent basis to force Nedbank to preserve the CPA’s funds in its bank account.

They also wanted CPA chairperson Thulani Mchunu, his deputy Irvin Mhlongo, secretary Mpendulo Simamane, deputy secretary Thulisile Tshutsha and treasurer Sibongile Danca to be restrained by the court from accessing its bank account.

According to court papers, the concerned group wanted Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza take over control and management of the CPA’s affairs pending the election of a new or interim committee.

In response, the CPA’s executives maintained that the application was an abuse of process as it related to historical grievances with no basis in fact or law.

Land Claims Court Acting Judge MP Canca found that there was a long history of ill-will between members of the concerned group and CPA executive committee elected in 2014 amid accusations of misuse of development funds despite comprehensive financial controls being in place.

The acting judge said the community had been paid R50m for the undeveloped land as part of the land claim settlement.

In April last year, the department’s then acting director-general Leona Archary instituted an investigation following complaints from the concerned group and facilitated meetings between both parties.

Canca said the process was ongoing.

The concerned group’s application was unsuccessful on technical grounds and not merits, the acting judge found.

Thamsanqa Malusi of Richard Spoor Attorneys, for the CPA, yesterday told Independent Media that the group had not indicated whether it would take the matter further.

Last year, the uMgungundlovu CPA concluded an agreement, which stated that Sun International, which owns the Wild Coast Sun, will rent the land on which the casino and resort are built from the CPA for R4m per annum escalating at 6% a year.

In terms of the deal, the CPA will take a 28.4% shareholding in the Wild Coast Sun while the community will receive R27m from the government to develop portions of the land.

Political Bureau