THE long battle between the Matsafeni community and the Mbombela municipality over land on which the provincial 2010 stadium is being built is over at last.

The land was originally owned by the poor Matsafeni community of farmworkers, but was secretly and illegally sold to the municipality last year for just R1.

Now the municipality has officially purchased the land from Matsafeni Trust for R8,7million, subject to further agreements regarding development rights.

In terms of the deed of sale, 69,7hectares was purchased from the trust on behalf of the municipality by the provincial department of public works.

The land includes the portion on which the stadium is being constructed, portions earmarked for two new schools, and the streets and servitudes to provide the precinct with infrastructure.

Mbombela municipality spokesperson Joseph Ngala said the deal was reached following the visit to Mbombela by former deputy president Baleka Mbete.

He said Mbombela still intended to use the stadium and other infrastructure as leverage to develop the precinct into an economic node.

"The precinct has certain unique benefits and a specific framework will be developed to realise the full potential of the area," said Ngala.

"Discussions are currently taking place between the Matsafeni Trust and Mbombela as well as other parties that could add value to the process," he said.

Ngala said the valuation was done by Valuator and Property Services, an independent company appointed by the department of Public Works.

According to Mbombela's legal representative, Johan du Preez, the transfer will only take place after the establishment of the Matsafeni township has been finalised for development and the interdict to prevent transfer has been lifted by the community.

The interdict was brought by the trust last year after the municipality attempted to take ownership of the land based on the original R1 deal.