Historic deal as community gets land back

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana has hailed the partnership between the community and previous landowners in Elandslaagte, Ladysmith, which saw the historic and biggest land claim to date being finalised.

The 8000 hectares of land were on Saturday handed back to the rightful owners, who were forcibly removed by the apartheid government in the 1950s and 1960s.

This historic land restoration took 15 years to be processed and finalised because of its "uniqueness".The minister said this would not only see people getting their land back, but would also become a catalyst for development in the Uthukela district in KwaZulu-Natal as well as the whole country.

Xingwana said the Uthukela district municipality area had a lot of tourism potential.

Sporting fields and an airport would be constructed, a shopping complex and a green village would be developed.

She said as part of the settlement of the first phase of the claim, the state had approved the restoration of land in the Nambithi Conservancy, measuring in extent of 8222 hectares at a cost of R271million.

This excludes 11 lodges, which are already in full operation.

There are 462 households that would benefit. In line with the settlement agreement, the joint venture formed between the community and the previous land owners will lease land from the Elandslaagte community to the tune of R78000 a month.

"Furthermore, the transfer of skills will be provided for the beneficiaries through the management company in which they have a stake," said Xingwana, pictured.

The claimants would also own a 30percent stake in the game reserve business.

They would also be assisted if they were interested in buying a 30percent stake in the 11 lodges valued at about R15million each.