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Panel hears of anger over ‘apartheid-style’ land trust

Former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Published Oct 21, 2016

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Durban - Ingonyama Trust came under fire on Thursday when a number of people aired dissatisfaction to a high-level panel assessing South African laws and the acceleration of fundamental change.

Presentations by different KwaZulu-Natal groups and community figures to the panel chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe told how the trust ran trust land in the apartheid system style.

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The event was held at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban. The panel was on the fourth leg of a countrywide consultation, which seeks to understand how the implementation of laws passed since 1994 impacted on people’s lives.

Edward Mpepho, a former businessman in Mgababa on the South Coast, told how he was forced out of his property for failure to pay rent.

He said he had been on it for five years, and had invested about R2 million in the business.

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“The trust must be investigated to establish how its funds are used. Its laws must also be investigated, because they destroy businesses situated on land under amakhosi jurisdiction.

“These businesses have to lease the land for 99 years and if you fall out of favour with either the inkosi or the trust, they just chase you out, exposing people to the possibility of job loss,’ said Mpepho.

Five years ago he reached an agreement with the area inkosi where he bought structures to run Mnini Camp Beach and Resort.

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He said the area inkosi refused to sell the land to him, but said he would have to contribute towards the trust purse.

“In the five years I have contributed R122 500 into the trust. A disagreement with the inkosi led to the involvement of the trust, which kicked me out of my business, which has subsequently closed down since I left last year,’ Mpepho told the panel.

Bongani Zikhali, from uMkhanyakude District, raised similar concern. He said he paid R2 000 rental for his piece of land.

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“That is my home, but I pay this much to the trust. Every year this amount increases by 10%. I have since stopped paying, and I don’t know how much I owe them since 2012.

“Something needs to be done to save the poor rural people from this trust,’ he said.

After the complaints and criticisms, Inkosi Phathisizwe Luthuli, of eMathulini on the South Coast, warned that there were proper channels to raise concerns on issues involving amakhosi.

“I wish for people to use the right platforms to address issues pertaining to issues of amakhosi…’. But he did not finish as people booed and heckled him.

“You don’t threaten us. You think you are the gods of the rural land? It is our land and we will voice our dissatisfaction whenever and wherever we want to,’ shouted a member of the audience.

Royal Household spokesman, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, who was present, said the panel had had a meeting with the trust and would be the right people to comment on the matters raised by the people, he said.

Asked if the panel had discussed the trust issue with the board of the trust, Motlanthe said their task was to listen to people’s concerns and views on how they were affected by the country’s legislation.

“The land question is a burning issue. But ours is not to give our opinion, but to listen to how people feel about the laws of the land,’ said Motlanthe.

After consultation in all nine provinces, the panel will report back to Parliament, which will then give it an opportunity to assess legislation and the extent of its implementation; its quality in terms of clarity, accessibility, drafting quality and so on.

Judge Jerome Ngwenya, spokesman for the Trust, could not be reached for comment.

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