Government halts settlement grants

THE Limpopo government has told the Mamphoku Makgoba Community Trust to forget about receiving post-settlement farm grants until they put their house in order.

THE Limpopo government has told the Mamphoku Makgoba Community Trust to forget about receiving post-settlement farm grants until they put their house in order.

The message was conveyed by the provincial portfolio committee on agriculture and MEC Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba during the hearing over the collapse of farms that were re-turned to the trust years ago.

Committee chairperson Nandi Ndalani and Letsatsi-Duba told the trust members that they would not receive their R26million post-settlement grant that the government has withheld.

The committee said the misunderstanding between the trust members and traditional leaders had forced them to hold the funds.

The trust successfully claimed 42 forestry and crop plantation farms in the Magoebaskloof area near Tzaneen, where they were forcibly removed 63 years ago. A portion of the land includes the now defunct multi-million rand Sapekoe tea estate.

During the hearing, it was revealed that two out of 40 farms were operating well but were increasingly feeling the pinch without help from the government.

Trust secretary Joseph Malatjie said they were forced to lease most of the farms because they did not have the ability to run the farms as they did not have skills or funds to do so.

Malatjie told the committee that funding frustrations had let down the production of tea estate.

AgriSA deputy president Theo De Jager said the government had contributed to the decrease in the food production and also failed the beneficiaries.

According to the Land Restitution Act, communities should be given funds to run farms when the land is given back to them.

Letsatsi-Duba said it would be risky for the government to transfer funds where there were conflicts.

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