Community accuses church of occupying land illegally

THE community of Mankweng outside Polokwane is at loggerheads with the Uniting Reformed Church of Southern Africa over the alleged illegal occupation of land by the church.

This follows allegations that the URCSA had been given a project to run a theological school in the township's Unit A in Stofberg in 1960.

The institution is situated inside the University of Limpopo's Turfloop campus.

The community has now accused an academic in the university, Selaelo Kgatla, of using the name of the church to deny them the right to the land, which they say belongs to them.

According to documents shown to Sowetan the church was given permission to occupy the land for the purpose of a theological school project in 1960.

According to the documents the land was not supposed to be leased, sold, rented or developed without the knowledge of the government.

But it has now emerged that there are tenants on the land who are paying monthly fees. The community is complaining that everything that was being done on the land was being done illegally and contrary to the permission to occupy the land.

"Instead, the land has been turned into a business, with Kgatla and his board members benefiting from the payments," said Irvan Setsiba, chairperson of the Baruting housing committee.

The theological school allegedly ceased to operate in 1983.

Setsiba said the Polokwane municipality had told them that there was nothing it could do when they approached it about the matter.

Approached for comment yesterday, Kgatla said the church was the rightful owner of the land and that they had a court order to stop members of the community from invading the land.

"We are the legal owners of the land in question," Kgatla said.