What a bargain: R50 and a bottle of booze for prime land
But Julius Malema says land will be taken for free - including land with bonded houses
A land grab on the fringes of a plush Ballito estate on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast has been halted, turning away many disappointed new prospective “owners”, some of whom had arrived in luxury German cars to stake their claim.
The upmarket Palm Lakes Estate, nestled in the coastal hamlet, was surrounded by land now subject to claim – with plots of prime real estate let go for a bargain of R50 and a bottle of booze.
Across the hillscape – with the borderline of the estate in sight – plots had been squared off with some hopeful new land owners already starting to clear the vegetation.
And while estate management moved to allay the fears of their well-heeled homeowners, whose multimillion-rand properties sit across a single fence, the situation on the ground was relatively calm on Thursday.
The latest land grab reports came as Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema told editors on Thursday that land expropriation without compensation would include land on which bonded houses had been built.
“We are nationalising the land and everything that comes with the land underground‚ not these things on top. If you’ve got a bond‚ we will talk to the bank that we have taken the land. [We will ask the bank] how much was the land and they will tell us and we will say that is gone without compensation. You will be left with [only] the bond of the house,” said Malema.
“We’ve never said we are nationalising the houses. We are nationalising the land.
“If you have a bonded house‚ you must continue to pay but we will give you a discount because we have taken that debt away from you. We are not going to pay any bank‚” Malema said.In Ballito, Sheydon Haripersadh, whose family home sits outside the estate grounds, said those hoping to become land owners had worked for days clearing the property before the authorities stepped in.
“It was early on Saturday morning and we heard a rumbling outside and voices in the distance. When we looked outside we saw a whole bunch of people on the hillside and across the valley.
“They were just demarcating pieces of land, putting stakes in the ground and cordoning their new land,” he added.
He said cars had streamed onto the land, with word of mouth having spread far and wide.“We still don’t know who instigated this. People were telling us that the local chief was selling the land for R50 a plot. We later heard that the price was R50 and a bottle of alcohol. It seemed like word spread and people have just been showing up to try and get something for free.”
Ram Ruka, a landowner in the area for decades, said it was not only the poor who sought to occupy the land.
“This is not limited to lower-income people. Someone showed up in a BMW X1 and another person arrived in a brand new Hyundai IX35,” he said.
Ruka’s 14ha property, a sugarcane plantation now fallow, had also been carved up by the invaders.A woman, who spoke to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity, had driven to the area to find land on Wednesday.
“The cultural kings said people must go and get land so I came but I see it is almost full.
“I thought we could just come and take the land freely,” she added.
She left disappointed not to have found a plot.
Palm Lake’s Olivia Sak said that they had held an urgent meeting with the police and the local tribal leader – thought to be the hidden hand in the land grab – on Monday.
At that meeting, the tribal authority agreed to halt all development on the land until a meeting held on Wednesday.
Sak said it was agreed that all land grabs are illegal and the estate enjoyed the support of the KwaDukuza Municipality.
She added that the matter had been peacefully resolved and that all affected landowners could “set their minds at ease”.KwaDukuza mayor Ricardo Mthembu said the land grabs had been affected without the blessing of the local nkosi – with the community stirred up to acts of criminality by several “instigators”.
“We are very disappointed with what has taken place. This is fundamentally a land grab which is criminal and we want the authorities to deal with those who fall foul of the law decisively,” he said.
“Some people claim that the nkosi gave the go-ahead on this but she has distanced herself. We will defend the land owners in this case. The processes of government must be respected, no matter how badly people want to own land.”
The vice chairperson of the Magwaza Traditional Council, who would only be identified by his last name Nduli, poured cold water on claims that the nkosi or the tribal authority had instigated the land claims.