Dodgy 2010 land deal backfires on council

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The Mbombela municipality's "tricks to cheat" a farming community out of their ancestral land it bought for R1 to build the Mbombela 2010 Stadium has come back to haunt it.

Pretoria high court Judge Justice Mavundla castigated the provincial cabinet and Mbombela municipal council for the use of "white settlers' shiny mirror" to hoodwink the community into parting with its ancestral land, worth R4million, for nothing.

Mavundla made the statement during a court interdict hearing to oppose the transfer of the land to Mbombela.

The ownership of the R1billion soccer stadium and 118ha of neighbouring land is being investigated by the board of trustees appointed by the Pretoria high court.

The board probed the management of the trust and looked at all the agreements concluded in the past, including the R1 deal.

The stadium is being built on agricultural land, originally ceded to the Matsafeni farmworkers' community, who were granted the land in 2003.

But the state illegally took the land last year when it "bought" it for R1 without obtaining any of the necessary approvals.

The community was then relocated to nearby veld, about 30km from Nelspruit.

Khayo Mpungose, a Mbombela municipal administrator, said when the stadium project was mooted, the Matsafeni Trust intended to donate the land in question to Mbombela.

But on legal advice it would not have been to the benefit of the Matsafeni Trust because it would have paid tax for the donation on the value of the land, he said.

"It was agreed between Mbombela and Matsafeni Trust that the bigger portion of land be sold to Mbombela for R1 and that a township be established on that portion of 118ha land.

"All costs of such township establishment would be paid by Mbombela and 48ha thereof would be transferred to Matsafeni Trust at no charge, after establishment of the town," Mpungose said.