Land invasions 'time bomb set to explode'

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The increasing demand for land is a time bomb, which government must quickly solve to avert mass- scale land grabs in coming years.

The warning comes from Sifiso Kunene, Farm Dweller Project Officer with the Association for Rural Advancement (Afra) in KwaZulu-Natal.

Kunene's comments come in the wake of recent attempted land invasions in the Pietermaritzburg. area. Three weeks ago hundreds of people invaded farms and declared themselves landlords at Mkondeni and Ashburton in the capital city.

Their action is reminiscent of the land-grabbing saga in Zimbabwe. This has raised concern among land owners, who have now taken legal recourse.

Police have managed to force some of the illegal landlords out. They include government employees.

But many marked plots were undisturbed after some of the government employees warned against tampering with their so-called plots.

Kunene said it wasn't advisable for the government to ignore the farm invasions.

"This shows that there is a strong demand for land. It is my view that if government does not put land distribution on the top of its agenda then the situation will explode in three years time.

"What we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. If government does not act we will see large- scale land grabs."

He said foreigners owned most of the arable land in the region.

"This situation becomes even more questionable when you consider that the majority of black people do not have land.

"Government has shot itself in the foot over its inability to implement its land redistribution promise."