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Zulu King Good­will Zwelithini is pre­par­ing to build his eighth palace on the site of a land claim. This has emerged as the king’s own mas­sive land claim puts him on a col­li­sion course with land­less com­mu­ni­ties whose ex­ist­ing claims date back nearly 15 years. Claimants liv­ing on land ad­min­is­tered by the In­gonyama Trust, which

ULUNDI is driv­ing the process on the Zulu monarch’s be­half, are pre­par­ing a court chal­lenge over abuses of resi- Ba­banango dents’ rights by tra­di­tional lead­ers and the trust.

Res­i­dents from Mel­moth, Ba­banango, Rich­mond, Mtu­batuba and Bish­op­stowe be­lieve their claims will be un­der­mined by Zwelithini’s. Bish­op­stowe

They also ar­gue that this process will give rights to the king but not the Rich­mond res­i­dents them­selves. Zwelithini is claim­ing rights to a huge tract of ur­ban and ru­ral land in­clud­ing Dur­ban, parts of the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Free State.

This week, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from these com­mu­ni­ties met with land ad­vo­cacy groups and aca­demics in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg to re­spond to the re­open­ing of the land resti­tu­tion process.

Msizeni Mag­waza and Thokozani Ndawo of the Mag­waza com­mu­nity told the meet­ing that land they claimed as labour ten­ants in 1998 had now been ear­marked for the build­ing of the king’s new­est palace near Ulundi.

“The re­gional land claims com­mis­sion keeps telling us they are re­search­ing the va­lid­ity of our claims. Now the land we want has been ear­marked for the king’s palace,” said Mag­waza.

Both said fences had al­ready gone up on the land – which is ad­min­is­tered by Amafa, KwaZulu-Natal’s her­itage body – de­spite their un­re­solved claims.

The meet­ing re­solved to in­ves­ti­gate claims of abuse of ten­ure on In­gonyama Trust land “with a view to tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against the trust”.

A re­port com­piled af­ter the meet­ing reads: “The law clearly states that the land is held in trust for the ben­e­fit of or­di­nary peo­ple, but the board acts as though tra­di­tional lead­ers are its sole Mtu­batuba ben­e­fi­cia­ries.”

Judge Jerome Ng­wenya, the chairMel­moth person of the trust, said com­mu­ni­ties with com­plaints against it should ap­proach it.

But, he warned, “the tra­di­tional coun­cils to which peo­ple are sub­ject are the only le­gally recog­nised rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the com­mu­nity”.

Dur­ban He added: “The tra­di­tional coun­cil does not need their con­sul­ta­tion or

Graph­ics24 con­sent as each in­di­vid­ual is a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity in whose name the tra­di­tional coun­cil acts.” Ac­cord­ing to him, each claim would be “as­sessed on its merit”.

KwaZulu-Natal land resti­tu­tion com­mis­sioner Ad­vo­cate Bheki Mbili said: “In terms of the re­opened process, we are re­ceiv­ing claims and not pro­cess­ing them as we are giv­ing pri­or­ity to the claims lodged prior to 1998.

“We are hop­ing that if we can be al­lo­cated more fund­ing in the short and medium term, we can do much more,” Mbili said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, “com­pet­ing claims” would be as­sessed by de­ter­min­ing what rights each party had at the time of dis­pos­ses­sion. – Paddy Harper


RE­GAL RUM­BLINGS King Good­will Zwelithini’s eighth palace near Ulundi is be­ing built on the site that’s the sub­ject of a land claim

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