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Farmer stole our land and now we live in a zoo, tearful woman tells Ramaphosa

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
Nqobile Motsweni, 28, told President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet ministers that her family's ancestral land was allegedly taken by a white farmer in 2002.
Nqobile Motsweni, 28, told President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet ministers that her family's ancestral land was allegedly taken by a white farmer in 2002.
Image: Amanda Khoza

When Nqobile Motsweni woke up on Friday, she told herself this would be her last chance to tell President Cyril Ramaphosa about her family's ordeal living with a farmer who allegedly took their ancestral land in 2002 and turned it into a zoo.

Taking the podium at the presidential imbizo in Carolina, Mpumalanga, the tearful 28-year-old told Ramaphosa and some of his cabinet ministers how the white farmer allegedly forced her family to share their land with zebras, ostriches and springbok.

“We have lived at Pigsty Farm since the 1800s,” she said. “In 2002 a white farmer who was our neighbour came with a gun and pointed it at my grandfather who was already old at that stage.

“He told my grandfather ... that he was now taking over the farm because he will not be sharing a farm with a k*****.

“The farmer took all of the cows and marked 4ha for us. Thereafter, he went and fetched brown zebras, ostriches, springboks, and our children could not go to school in the morning because they get chased by zebras and ostriches.

“He told us that he was making a zoo and that meant that we were part of the zoo that he was establishing.”

Motseweni claimed that when she and her family went to open a case against the farmer “he told us that we cannot get him arrested because he has all the money”.

She said: “We tried to leave. But it is not easy to leave our ancestral land because we are a family that believed in respecting our ancestors and we would have had to move the graves as well.

“We do not have access to water but our windmill is a stone's throw away and our cattle do not have access to water because he uses the water for the wild animals.

“He killed about 100 of our cows with poison and he burnt our goats. When we open cases against him he goes and he has tea with the prosecutors and the magistrates.

“When the time comes to hear the case, we were told that this is no PEP store and we should not tell the court what to do because it is throwing the case out.

“We were told who are we as k****** to arrest a white farmer. We do not have any justice, we have gone to all the imbizos. I came today because this was my last hope.

Residents of Carolina in Mpumalanga told President Cyril Ramaphosa at the presidential imbizo on May 20 2022 about their frustrations with service delivery.
Residents of Carolina in Mpumalanga told President Cyril Ramaphosa at the presidential imbizo on May 20 2022 about their frustrations with service delivery.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

“I told myself this is the last time that I am raising the matter because I can die any time because we have a target on our backs. When we bump into him he takes out a gun and tells you that he will kill you.

“I know that I can die any time and the most painful thing is that I will be killed by someone who was my neighbour. Do you know how many bullets I have dodged?

“If I could show you my back, you would see all the scars to show how much we have suffered living on our own land. We are tired, Mr President, please help us.”

After her emotional account, police minister Bheki Cele and other officials swarmed about Motseweni to get the name of the farmer, the case number and further details of the family’s ordeal. Motseweni was taken to the local police top brass.

Responding later, Cele told Ramaphosa the police would be following up on the matter, and justice minister Ronald Lamola said he had noted the complaint against the courts.

Chief Solomon Nkosi told President Cyril Ramaphosa he lost his land in 2009.
Chief Solomon Nkosi told President Cyril Ramaphosa he lost his land in 2009.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Lamola told farm workers the local legal aid board offices were ready to deal with similar complaints. Ramaphosa told the gathering he was happy the matter was being attended to and hoped it would be resolved.

The president was in Mpumalanga to assess service delivery as part of the government’s district development model. He began his imbizo roadshow in North West in March, followed by the Free State in April.

The aim of the imbizo is to bridge the gap between the local, provincial and national governments and communities.

Regional ANC Youth League leader Mwakhe Magagula lambasted his organisation for treating its supporters like “foreigners”.

“We see a lot of things going wrong but we have become foreigners to the issues that are raised by these community members,” he told Ramaphosa.

“We see these situations but we do not attend to them. These people have voted for us but we are the same people that are running away from them.

“Everyone today wants to lead because there are loopholes that are in the organisation. If we can look after the people and provide service, we would not be running about like this today.”

Chief Solomon Nkosi alleged he was stripped of his land in 2009, allegedly by former premier and now deputy president David Mabuza.

“When I go to complain to the current premier, Refilwe Mtsweni, I get sent from pillar to post. We are tired, Mr President. Please can you assist us? They do not care about us.”

Lucia Jesus told Cele  the local police were allegedly arresting innocent community members instead of criminals. “Speak to your people,” said Jesus.

She also complained about the lack of ambulances and police resources. Ramaphosa and his ministers responded by promising to return to deal with the problems  raised by the community members.

TimesLIVE


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