Maize triangle families get their lost land back

Elisha Molefe

Elisha Molefe

About 750 households from Rysmier, in the maize triangle in North West, had their land restored to them by Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana, yesterday.

Almost 2900ha, which cost the government R25million, were handed over to the community.

During the handing-over ceremony, Xingwana told the families to "forget about the informal settlements" in places such as Johannesburg and "come home to farm".

She said: "Poverty is a nightmare. It is a vicious circle of poor health, reduced working capacity, low productivity and shortened life expectancy."

But the minister said she was disappointed by in-fighting among some of the people to whom land had been returned.

"I am very disappointed by the news surrounding the fighting among the claimants in this country," she said.

"In Putfontein, not far from here, we handed over land more than four years ago, but it has not been put into production to date, mainly because there is a dispute between the community and the traditional authority in charge."

The previous owner of the land, Casper Botha, promised the minister he would help resolve the dispute.

Botha said: "I am happy to work with this community. I do this for my children also because this is the new South Africa."

He said the turnover of the farm could be more than R5million a year if it was looked after properly.

The claim to the land was lodged by Jacob Lebogang Motingoe on October 26 1988 and by Petrus Mosweu on July 7 1988.

Mosweu said that "the monster of divisiveness" had reared its head and because some people were unhappy he had been elected chairman of the claimants committee.

The minister said she wanted all land claims finalised by 2008.