by Inkosi Bhekizizwe Luthuli MP, on behalf of Mathulini Communal Property Association
7 July 2019
The manager of a farm owned by the Mathulini Communal Property Association in the Mtwalume area of KwaZulu-Natal has been hospitalised with first degree burns after violent thugs invaded the farm, set it alight and threw him into a fire with the intention of killing him.
The perpetrators of this violent and unlawful act are part of the ‘concerned group’ that is attempting to hijack a 7 500 hectare land claim from the Mathulini Communal Property Association and the Ndelo Community Trust, valued in excess of R300 million. The farms that make up this land claim produce 400 000 tonnes of sugar cane annually and employ 1 200 people.
This violent hijack of a legitimate land claim is a desperate and unlawful attempt to achieve what has failed through legal processes that have so far cost the beneficiaries R6,5 million in legal fees. The demands of the ‘concerned group’ led by General Mandlenkosi Radebe have already been rejected in the Land Claims Court in numerous cases.
We have previously written to President Cyril Ramaphosa calling for an intervention in this matter, but to no avail. Perhaps now that a farm has been invaded, roads illegally blockaded and a man nearly burned to death, the government will take notice.
We have written to the new Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to request that she urgently intervene. As a fresh ministerial appointee with previous experience of such matters, we call on her to stop the violent and illegitimate hijack of this land claim.
We also intend serving an urgent application before the Land Claims Court on Monday 8 July to find Mr Radebe in contempt of previous court orders, and to interdict him and his group from further interfering in the land claim.
It is curious that government – through its inaction – has allowed a gang of thugs to stall and frustrate a lawful land restitution transfer. Indeed, the South African Police Service officers dispatched to the farm over the last few days did nothing to stop the violence taking place.
This government and police inaction lends credence to the growing suspicion that Mr Radebe, together with his rogue, unlawful and invalid committee, is in connivance with functionaries of the Regional Land Claims Commission (RLCC) in Pietermaritzburg.
As the Standing Member of the Mathulini Communal Property Association and a current Member of Parliament, I call on Minister Didiza to urgently intervene in this matter. If we allow nefarious forces to capture our land claim processes for their own ends, we will never get South Africa’s stalled land reform programme properly on track.