Wild Coast community hit the jackpot as they get their land back

Published Nov 4, 2018


Durban - FOR many people the Wild Coast

Sun represents a place of fun and relaxation. But for 75-year-old Beauty Sibiya it was the source of pain for the past 40 years.

Back in 1979 her husband was ill at home when the family received eviction letters from the then-Transkei government.

The family, together with other villagers, needed to get out because construction of the resort was starting.

“They said the development would create employment for our children,” she recollected. Not surprisingly, it didn’t materialise, like many of the other promises that were made.

“Many of the families left, but I could not go immediately because I did not have money. My husband was also sick and I had to take care of him. I did not have time to go and build a shack across the road like others did.”

Within days of the letters arriving, Sibiya’s husband died. He was buried near their home.

She was forced to throw what little she could salvage over the fence and, together with her four children, sought refuge with family and friends.

“Many of us grew crops or had livestock on the land. When the bulldozers arrived, we had to leave everything behind,” she said.

In the years preceding this, hotel magnate Sol Kerzner had negotiated a deal with the government of the then-Transkei, now the Eastern Cape, to lease the land for the resort.

The agreement stipulated that community members living on the land “make way for the building of the casino and other facilities”.

Transkei homeland prime minister, George Matanzima, stood trial and was sentenced for accepting R2 million bribe from Kerzner for facilitating the deal in 1989.

He was given a nine-year jail sentence. He eventually only served one year in jail.

This week Sibiya was one of 117 families from uMgungundlovu who received news that they had got their land back and were the new landlords of the Wild Coast Sun.

The property spans 700 hectares of sea facing land, part of which includes the hotel and casino complex.

Sibiya said she was glad that after years of pain and suffering she would receive some compensation.

Sun Internationals COO, Thabo Mosololi, said the company was glad that the land claim had been concluded and that definitive agreements had been signed by all parties.

“This is a ground-breaking deal and is progressive as the community will partner with Sun International going forward and share in its success.

“According to the terms agreed to, the land on which the Wild Coast Sun is built will be restored to the uMgungundlovu community who will also receive a 28% shareholding in Transun (a Sun international subsidiary), which is the lessee of the land.

Sun International will rent the land the Wild Coast resort was built on for R4 million a year at an escalating rate of 6% a year to the 177 family members forcibly removed from the area in 1979.

Human rights lawyer Thami Malusi, who represented the land claimants, said the agreement had been concluded after months of hard work.

Malusi added that the case was a good model for how future land claims should turn out, with all parties working together.

Sunday Tribune

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