Massive North Coast land claim
Durban - A community has approached the Land Claims Court to expedite a claim to vast parts of the North Coast, including upmarket Ballito and the Zimbali resort, that has been dragging on for years.
The community has claimed land it says its forefathers were evicted from during colonial times, including what are now upmarket suburbs and agricultural land, some of it owned and managed by the Tongaat Hulett sugar and property development company.
The Makhosi Khosi Communal Property Trust, which represents the Qwabe clan, launched the claim in 1994. But the matter has been dragging on since then while new development has taken off, including in the resort town of Ballito and plush coastal estate Zimbali.
The trust says some of the prime coastal land from the La Mercy area to Umhlali was unfairly excluded when the claim was gazetted in 2006.
The trust’s lawyer, Vusisizwe Khoza, said a statement of claim had been filed with the Land Claims Court in Randburg, Johannesburg, to force the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights to fast-track its claim and include the luxurious coastal suburbs.
“The matter is in court, but we are still going through pre-trial conferences (between claimants and commission lawyers) in order to set a court date for the matter,” he said.
To further complicate matters, competing claims have also been lodged.
Khoza said he could not discuss how the claim would impact on the development of business, industry and residential properties, as the matter was sub judice.
The coastal land is part of the bigger claim which covers vast expanses of land between the Tongaat and Umhlali rivers and also spreads from the coast inland to Waterfall, near Ndwedwe, which mostly consists of sugar cane farms.
Other affected towns include Westbrook, Salt Rock, Shaka’s Rock, the Dolphin Coast and Umhlali. The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights advertised a notice last week calling for people who wished to lodge claims on 130 properties to do so at the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in Pietermaritzburg before the end of August.
The Makhosi Khosi Communal Property Trust’s deputy chairman, Phillip Gumede, said the colonial regime had displaced about 1 280 families between 1913 and the 1950s.
Gumede said the Qwabe clan leader Inkosi Sizibeni Qwabe, who was his grandfather, was first removed from Ballito to Tongaat and later forced to relocate to Waterfall, where he died in 1968.
He said the community lodged the claim immediately after Nelson Mandela opened the process in 1994.
“Soon after Mandela had made the announcement we went to Pietermaritzburg to tell the commission we had lots of land to claim. After discussion, the Land Claims Commission helped us form a trust to represent the claimants.
“We then toured the land, showing the commission the boundaries of our land. But we were shocked in 2006 to discover that only about 13 000 hectares had been gazetted and coastal land was excluded. Within that 13 000ha, there were farmers who were willing to sell, but the commission delayed buying until the farmers pulled out of the deal. In 2008 they applied to court for their farms to be removed from the gazette, and the court ruled in their favour,” Gumede said.
Gumede said to date they had received six farms.
The commission’s senior legal administrator, Makgalemela Maake, confirmed that the Qwabe claim had gone to court.
He said the commission had to put up a notice to get more people to make their claims in order to deal with competing claims as soon as possible.
“During our investigation it transpired that there are other claims in the area,” he said.
He said the department’s lodgement station would only know after August how many other claims, other then the Qwabe clan’s, had been lodged.
He said there were cases in which farm labour tenants would also lodge claims.