Sandford Trust and Hollow Group join forces to develop land claimed by the trust

Lihle Mtshali

Lihle Mtshali

Communities to which land has been restored are making concerted efforts to use the land effectively to ensure that it is profitable and sustainable for them and generations to come.

This was evidenced yesterday at the signing of a landmark deal between land claimants and private investors in the Bushbuckridge region of Mpumalanga.

The Sandford Trust, which was set up to represent the Mapulana tribe of Hazyview, entered into a partnership with the hotel company, the Hollow Group, to develop land successfully claimed by the trust in 2003. The partnership is a long-term venture, spanning 51 years, with the Sandford Trust owning 49 percent and the Hollow Group owning 51 percent.

"This is a milestone for the trust. Without reserves and little educational background, we have managed to come this far," said Riebs Khoza, secretary of the Sandford Community Trust.

Tembi Guest Lodge was part of the successful land claim, but after the transfer to Sandford it fell into disrepair as a result of a lack of capital, resources and local skills to run it, something that has happened in many land restitution cases throughout the country.

Chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya recently told BuaNews that the land claims commission was aware of the shortage of skills among the beneficiaries of the restitution programme. He added that settlement support units were continually looking for more effective solutions and were negotiating with private and public partners to come on board and support new owners in using their land optimally.

The deal, which was structured by the Business Trust through its Mabedi project, will create more than 120 permanent jobs, along with numerous small business opportunities for the Sandford community.

The recipe for the deal's success, said Khoza, is that all the stakeholders have a vested interest in the growth of the area.

"We are now one group. Today we became a family and we are not just doing this for ourselves, but for our children and their children," he said.