Die Matsafeni gemeenskapstrust is in Phumlani, Witrivier gebied geleë. Inwoners se huise is op 6 Augustus 2018, binne ure totale al platgestoot en die bourommel is daar as bewys dat dit huise is wat bewoon was. Kortliks, daar was ‘n grondeis wat in 2003 geslaagd was. Een dubbelverdieping woning se waarde word beraam op R2 miljoen. Die grondeis volgens die inwoners is in 2003 aan hulle toegeken nadat die grondeis van 6000 hektaar grond wat betrokke is, wat ongeveer R62 miljoen werd is. Op die webtuiste van Halls word dit genoem dat dit 7000 hektaar grond is wat betrokke is in die grondeis, maar slegs 6000 is toegeken. Maar daar was ook ander verwikkelinge rondom die stuk grondgebied waar daar ‘n sokker stadium in 2010 gebou is en in die proses volgens berigte miljoene uitbetaal is.
Matsafeni Community Trust – Land claim and sage around evictions
Within an hour, 28 houses had been razed to the ground, including a double-storey mansion valued at about R2 million. When roaring bulldozers and police officers moved into Phumlani Village near White River, Mpumalanga, last Tuesday, it was another chapter of a South African land reform story gone wrong. The land where their houses once stood is now mass of broken bricks, crushed cement and contorted corrugated iron sheets.
Manqoba Mabuza (29) had stacked a few bricks, about a metre high, to create a wall when City Press arrived near the rubble of the mansion, which was still under construction. Near the roofless wall was a three-legged pot and a thin piece of foam for sleeping. Over the past few days, Mabuza has been cooking and sleeping al fresco.
He is a relative of the mansion’s owner, Simon Sithole (35), and he worked on constructing the house. The community reclaimed land owned by one of Mpumalanga’s biggest farming companies, HL Hall & Sons, that included citrus, avocado and macadamia plantations and vast tracts of virgin land.
In 2003, the story of these families had all the makings of a happy ending. The rural development and land reform department transferred 6 000 hectares worth R62 million to the Matsafeni Community Trust for the benefit of more than 1 000 families after a successful land restitution claim.
Since the land was transferred, there have been complaints about squabbles among the Matsafeni trustees and decisions allegedly taken by trustees without informing beneficiaries. The 28 families settled on one of the Matsafeni properties, situated west of Msholozi Village which, ironically, came about as a result of illegal land invasions.
Sithole said that he and the other families lived peacefully until, according to their version of events, the trust entered into a deal with a building materials company, Afrimat, to mine crushed stone. They alleged the trust, without consulting them, sold the farm to Afrimat for about R54 million.
The community members claimed that according to documents they have seen, the Matsafeni Trust is a 51% shareholder in the business, but no dividends had been shared with them. “The noise started last year when people were receiving letters from lawyers claiming they were occupying private land and must vacate,” Sithole said.
Ben Mabunda, a Matsafeni trustee, said Sithole and others invaded the land.
Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters and the homeless people closed down Afrimat after the eviction and camped outside its gates under police supervision.
EFF Mpumalanga chairperson Collen Sedibe said the mine would not be opened until the families were given accommodation and their houses were rebuilt.
Derrick said Bennie Mabunda and Terry Mdluli, members of Matsafeni Community Development Trust, had given them the land and assured them it belonged to them.
The land itself had once belonged to the Matsafeni people who lived, farmed, and even buried their dead there. So they took their case to the Land Claims Commission and in 2003, the land was returned to them. Soon after, the Matsafeni families established a vibrant community, built a school and a community hall, established their own homes, put in roads, electricity, running water and sanitation. Many of the working men and women even found jobs nearby.
To protect this ancestral land for the community, Matsafeni family representatives agreed to set up the Matsafeni Trust and appoint a board of directors to manage the Trust’s affairs. Over the next few years this trust earned R20-million and each one of the Matsafeni families seemed confident, even certain that they would all prosper. What they hadn’t reckoned with was the Nelspruit municipality. For it had chosen the same piece of land as the site for the Mbombela football stadium being built for the 2010 Football World Cup. That’s when the trouble began.
First of all Mpumalanga’s MEC for Agriculture and Land Affairs Dinah Pule allegedly did a deal with the board of directors of the Matsafeni Trust and managed to buy back this valuable Matsafeni ancestral land for just R1. None of the necessary approvals were obtained. The Land Claims Commission and the Minister of Land Affairs were not even told about this deal. Worse still the provincial government tried to bulldoze the community into accepting the transaction, and sent in trucks to forcibly remove the families and resettle them on a tract of land 25 km away.
The Matsafeni community was granted the land by the Land Claims Commission because it felt that the community had proved it had a legitimate claim to the land. Now, just five years later, the board of directors of the Matsafeni Trust imply that actually any land would be okay and these directors agree to move the community somewhere else. So much for the rightful claim to the ancestral land. Perhaps it is the Land Claim process that is being used illegitimately by unscrupulous people in South Africa to get their hands on land without paying for it? Surely it stands to reason that if the Matsafeni community’s ancestral land was important to them in 2003 then it’s got to be just as important to them in 2008. Or am I missing something? Secondly, the supposedly transparent provincial government did not hold any discussions with the Matsafeni community, and did not include it in the plans to sell off the many hundreds of stands for a luxury housing devlopment inside an estate surrounding the Mbombela Stadium.
Even more worrying is that representatives of the African Nationalist Congress – in their capacity as the provincial custodians of Agriculture and Land Affairs – seem quite prepared to forcibly remove the Matsafeni people and resettle them somewhere else.
Matsafeni Community Trust – more information:
Land reform after claim 2003 – mining
Halls started the farm in 1890
Halls concludes a land restitution deal in South Africa and transfers 7,000 hectares of land to a community trust, the Matsafeni Farming Trust
Halls is established by Hugh Lanion Hall along the picturesque Crocodile River in South Africa.
Corruption in 2007
Mpumalanga’s R1-billion 2010 World Cup stadium is being built on land that was illegally “bought” from a group of impoverished land claimants for R1. The Mbombela municipality this week formally declared the agreement signed between Differ Mogale, the council’s 2010 co-ordinator, and the Matsafeni Trust null and void. This was because Mogale apparently had no authority to conclude the deal.
Richard Spoor, the human rights lawyer representing 750 of the Matsafeni Trust’s 1 250 official beneficiaries, says the community never met at a general meeting to approve the deal through a 60 percent majority vote as required by law. “We do not want to jeopardise Mpumalanga’s 2010 plans but, if necessary, the 750 beneficiaries I represent will file legal papers to win back control of their ancestral land by dissolving the board of trustees and forcing them to step down.”
The government has already spent an estimated R250-million building the stadium. Jo Koster, a local Democratic Alliance councillor, said the cancellation of the sale meant the R1-billion stadium was being built on private property.
Land-rights activists had also questioned why the government had bought prime development land from an impoverished community for just R1 when the land was conservatively valued at more than R60-million. Not only did the community not get paid for their land, but their only two schools will be bulldozed to make way for a stadium parking lot.
While Justice Nsibande, the Mbombela mayor, and other ANC councillors refused to comment, Sibiya confirmed that Mogale would be charged for contravening council regulations. But Mogale, who was not present at the council meeting where the deal was nullified, insists that the land sale was legal, and that the property has already been transferred into the council’s name.
Mpumalanga’s government director for the World Cup, Desmond Golding, was outraged when he was informed of the council resolution, saying Mogale had consulted the 2010 political committee, the mayor and the municipal manager, who had all approved the sale of the land.
“Who else did Mogale need to consult?” Golding asked. “Let me put it on record that this province will not be held to ransom by internal bickering. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing illegal in the land deal.
A DEAL WAS SETTLED IN JULY 2009
The stadion was built on this land
Mpumalanga’s 2010 community has been paid over R8 million for the land on which the provincial R1 billion 2010 stadium is being built. This week government confirmed that the Matsafeni land beneficiaries sold 69.7 hectares of land to the Mbombela municipality for R8.7 million.
“We have finally reached a deal that makes everybody happy. This deal marks a great end to a long battle between the community and government,” said professional trustee in the interim Matsafeni board of trustees, Meshack Silinda.
Mbombela spokesperson Joseph Ngala said the deal was signed on 21 April, following a visit by former deputy president Baleka Mbete to Nelspruit early this year to quell growing disputes over the land. “The former deputy president’s office initiated the fresh negotiations, which were ultimately handed to us to implement,” he said.
Mbombela’s 2010 coordinator Differ Mogale said Mbombela bought the land through the provincial public works department after an independent land valuer priced it at R8.7 million.
“The land includes the portion on which the stadium is being constructed as well as portions on which two new schools will be erected and the streets and servitudes required to provide precinct with infrastructure,” said Mr Mogale.
He said there was a court order preventing them from transferring the land as yet. “The interdict is presently being addressed with the Matsafeni Trust,” he said.
Discussions were being held around the development of a massive precinct around the 2010 stadium. “It is the intention to use the stadium and other infrastructure as leverage to develop the precinct into a strong economic node. The precinct has certain unique benefits and a specific development framework will be developed to realise the full potential of the area.
“Discussions are presently taking place between the Matsafeni Trust, Mbombela Local Municipality and other parties that could add value to the process,” he said. He said while the process to develop the area was underway, costs were yet to be determined. Provincial and municipal officials initially tried to convince the Matsafeni community to donate the land for just R1.
The land is part of a larger 5 700-hectare farm outside Nelspruit that was restored to the Matsafeni as part of a land claim seven years ago. Mbombela started building the province’s 2010 stadium on the site almost three years ago, without actually owning the land or obtaining Matsafeni or national government permission to use it.
VUMELANA PROJECT FUND
Support of Communal Property Institutions
Vumelana helps communities in the land reform programme to put their land to productive use by establishing properly structured commercial partnerships.
We know that:
• Through the processes of colonialism and apartheid, communities lost not only their land, but also access to capital, skills, markets, networks and entrepreneurship.
• The restoration of land without access to that institutional framework leaves communities with “dead capital”. The land cannot be put to productive use.
• The re-establishment of that institutional architecture will take time.
• In the short term, the establishment of partnerships with third parties who have those resources is the most immediate way of addressing that challenge.
• Owing to the asymmetry of power among the potential partners these partnerships carry risks that the partners are often unwilling or unable to bear.
We believe that:
• By making skilled advisors available, Vumelana can reduce the risks for the parties by making sure that the risks and rewards are fairly distributed.
• Investment partnerships, where communities make their land available and investors risk their capital, provide the most sustainable basis for the development of community owned land and improvement of jobs, income and livelihoods.
Vumelana aims to support good projects. These may be referred to Vumelana by advisors, communities, investors or government. They must be associated with South Africa’s land reform programme focused on restitution, redistribution or tenure reform and can be in any sector.
The following project haS been supported.
READ MORE ON THEIR WEBSITE:
Between 2006 and 2011 the Business Trust ran a pilot project in Maruleng and Bushbuckridge where 500 000 people live on the border of the Kruger National Park. It aimed to pilot a market based approach to economic development. Part of the programme focused on working with Communal Property Institutions responsible for the management of land acquired under the Land Reform Programme.
The Maruleng and Bushbuckridge Economic Development Initiative (MABEDI) provided three forms of support to communities: community facilitation, Communal Property Institution administration support and transaction advisory services in order to bridge the gap in knowledge and skills between communities and potential investors and to ensure that partnerships were fair and sustainable.
Partnerships were structured with investors for the development of their land and 16 of these partnerships raised R1,5 bn with the potential to benefit 3 300 families and create 4 975 jobs.
The success of those projects is attributed to the sustained and dedicated attention of skilled transaction advisors, community facilitators and property institution -administrators. Based on the success of the Maruleng and Bushbuckridge Economic Development Initiative pilot project, the Business Trust resolved to make a founding donation for the establishment of Vumelana.