Pay up, fam­ily tells Im­pala Plat­inum

CityPress - - Business - LESETJA MALOPE lesetja.malope@city­press.co.za

A fam­ily in Rusten­burg is seek­ing more than R300 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion from min­ing gi­ant Im­pala Plat­inum (Im­plats) for land cur­rently hous­ing one of the mine’s most prof­itable shafts.

The Mot­suenyane fam­ily in Rusten­burg is drag­ging the min­ing com­pany to court over the land, which was first bought by the fam­ily in the 1960s.

It ended up un­der Im­plats’ own­er­ship af­ter the com­pany was granted min­ing rights by the apartheid govern­ment.

The 105 hectare plot of land, which both par­ties agree be­longs to the fam­ily, now forms a sig­nif­i­cant part of Im­plats’ Rusten­burg mine.

It is home to shaft 2, one of the com­pany’s more prof­itable shafts.

The Mot­suenyanes say they were landown­ers in the 1960s when the ma­tri­ach of the fam­ily, Priscilla Mot­suenyane, bought it from the then SA Bantu Trust (SABT).

The ti­tle deed was not trans­ferred and reg­is­tered im­me­di­ately – this was to be done later, agreed the fam­ily and the SABT. The ti­tle deed was even­tu­ally trans­ferred in 1982.

Im­plats re­ceived per­mis­sion to mine in 1967 and started op­er­a­tions the fol­low­ing year, al­legedly evict­ing the fam­ily from the land in the process.

The fam­ily’s lawyer, Jo­han Bo­den­stein, said they want Im­plats to set­tle the claim as they were dis­ad­van­taged when the mine started op­er­a­tions.

He said that, al­though the fam­ily were seek­ing more than

R300 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion, they were will­ing to reach a set­tle­ment.

“The fam­ily had to move from their own land and are scat­tered,” he said. “The fam­ily are will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a set­tle­ment as they un­der­stand that the set­tle­ment must not re­sult in jobs be­ing lost at the mine.”

Bo­den­stein said the mat­ter had been lodged with the High Court in Mma­batho, North West, since 2013 but had been de­layed by “tech­ni­cal­i­ties” raised by the mine.

A date for the hear­ing had yet to be set down, said Bo­den­stein, adding that he was await­ing in­struc­tions from the fam­ily.

Im­plats spokesper­son Jo­han Theron said the sur­face rights to the land were ac­quired by Mot­suenyane in 1969 but only trans­ferred to the fam­ily in 1982. “Im­pala, through the Min­ing Rights Act 1967 – a statu­tory reg­u­la­tion of the time – se­cured the rel­e­vant prospect­ing per­mits, min­ing leases and sur­face right per­mits to es­tab­lish Im­pala Plat­inum Mine in the Rusten­burg area in 1968, is­sued by the state at that time.

“The ma­jor­ity of the area se­cured by Im­pala Plat­inum was owned by the Royal Bafo­keng Na­tion, with some small, pri­vately owned ar­eas – one such area be­ing the farm on which the Mot­suenyane fam­ily was re­lo­cated. The rights ob­tained from the state al­lowed the min­ing com­pany to mine the min­er­als un­der­ly­ing the land and to con­struct es­sen­tial min­ing-re­lated sur­face in­fra­struc­ture on the sur­face thereof.

“In terms of the reg­is­tered sur­face right per­mits ob­tained over Por­tion 4, Im­pala utilises about 105ha of the ap­prox­i­mately 171ha of Por­tion 4,” Theron said.

In 2012, Im­pala of­fered the fam­ily R30 mil­lion as a once-off pay­ment for the land, but the of­fer was re­jected.

The fam­ily then ac­cepted an­other of­fer – by an­other com­pany, Valditime – for R40 mil­lion later that year.

Bo­den­stein said the land was sold to Valditime as it was at risk of be­ing auc­tioned off by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity be­cause of a levies and rates debt that amounted to al­most R2 mil­lion. This, af­ter the land was re­zoned from agri­cul­tural to min­ing – and the rates had shot up.

“The fam­ily sold the land to Valditime, but both par­ties agreed that the es­tate would re­tain the his­tor­i­cal claim against Im­pala,” he said.

But Im­plats claims that Valditime tried sell­ing it the land for R150 mil­lion in 2013, but it de­clined the of­fer.

“Dur­ing the course of 2013, Valditime (Pty) Ltd met with Im­pala and made a ver­bal of­fer to sell the land to Im­pala for R150 mil­lion – al­ter­na­tively, for Im­pala to lease the land for a pe­riod of 10 years at R1.5 mil­lion a month, or a com­bi­na­tion of the two,” said Theron.

“It is our un­der­stand­ing that par­ties in­volved in this ... ar­range­ment were of the view that Im­pala could be per­suaded or forced to in­crease its set­tle­ment of­fer of R30 mil­lion to at least R150 mil­lion us­ing a range of un­savoury tac­tics.

“Nat­u­rally, Im­pala has re­fused to give con­sid­er­a­tion to un­re­al­is­tic com­mer­cial ex­pec­ta­tions and un­law­ful/un­pro­fes­sional con­duct, in our view, from en­ti­ties as­signed to look af­ter the in­ter­est of the heirs [the fam­ily] of Por­tion 4.”

Theron said that Im­plats was will­ing to en­ter into a fair and eq­ui­table land lease agree­ment with the undis­puted right­ful own­ers of the land, taking ac­count of his­tor­i­cal fac­tors and the mar­ket value of the land.

“Im­pala re­solved to pay an amount equiv­a­lent to the as­sessed value of the land into a trust ac­count for such a lease agree­ment.

“How­ever, while the own­er­ship of Por­tion 4 and the ex­ecu­tor­ship of the es­tate of the late Priscilla Mot­suenyane re­mains in dis­pute, we sim­ply do not have an undis­puted le­gal counter party to ne­go­ti­ate with and agree a res­o­lu­tion,” Theron added.

’’ The fam­ily are will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a set­tle­ment as they un­der­stand that the set­tle­ment must not re­sult in jobs be­ing lost at the mine

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