Families risk losing farms

ALMOST 400 Black beneficiaries of the country's land reform programme might lose their new farms because the government is delaying to provide R1billion in start-up funds.

This information was revealed yesterday in a Parliamentary reply from Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti.

Nkwinti said there were delays in paying out the R945million in approved grants to 389 beneficiaries.

Four years ago the Magwa Tea Estate in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, was given back to 1500 families, who were removed from their land in 1961.

But yesterday, Nkwinti revealed that the Magwa community was still owed R42million in start-up funds. The department does not pay post-settlement grants directly to beneficiaries.

The current arrangement is that funds are transferred, on agreement with the community to an implementing agent such as the municipality," Nkwinti said.

He did not explain why the municipalities had delayed in paying the "post-settlement grants".

Nkwinti said further delays in making funds available could result in beneficiaries losing the farms.

He said the delays would also lead to community conflicts and to deterioration of the farming equipment

"Continued lack of strategic partners will affect training of beneficiaries and skills transfer," he said.