FISH RIVER WEST FARM­ERS STUNNED BY AD­DI­TIONAL LAND CLAIM

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - ROB KNOWLES and LOUISE CARTER

THE own­ers of seven farms and 20 small­hold­ings west of the dis­puted Fish River land claim, in­clud­ing sec­tions of the mu­nic­i­pal-owned Kap River Na­ture Re­serve, only dis­cov­ered this week that their land is in­cluded in the mas­sive land claim case cur­rently in the Port Al­fred Mag­is­trate’s Court.

Pineap­ple farmer Bran­don Calitz and his family were alerted to the case when an as­so­ciate no­ti­fied him that the area they farm were in­cluded in a de­mar­cated area cur­rently be­ing claimed by one of the three clans in the land claim case, namely the AmaZizi.

A dumb­founded Calitz went down to the court to ver­ify the map pre­sented in court, which clearly in­cludes his family’s land and mul­ti­ple other own­ers in that area in the dis­pute.

“We were al­ways aware of the Fish River claims on the east side, but be­cause it didn’t af­fect us we were never con­cerned,” Calitz said.

Calitz said there has been no con­tact from the De­part­ment of Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Land Re­form (DRDLR), and they have had no di­a­logue or any con­tact from lawyers.

Caught off-guard, Calitz has filed an af­fi­davit with the court and has sought le­gal coun­sel.

Over and above these lat­est rev­e­la­tions, af­ter a week and a half in court the par­ties seem no closer to fi­nal­is­ing the land claim, in which two of the three clans have dis­puted own­er­ship for the past 17 years.

The clans in dis­pute are the AmaZizi, the Prud­hoe and the Tharfield, who each have sec­tional claims on ar­eas of land, some on the same area of land, specif­i­cally where the Fish River Sun is lo­cated.

Although the DRDLR has at­tempted to en­sure the ho­tel and re­sort will re­main un­af­fected, it seems likely that Sun In­ter­na­tional is no longer in­ter­ested in re­tain­ing the ho­tel, and will not con­tinue op­er­a­tions longer than an­other six months.

Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti stated un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion last week that govern­ment is look­ing at buy­ing the land, but it has no in­ter­est in run­ning the op­er­a­tion.

At the be­gin­ning of the court case, Nk­winti pro­posed a model where each claimant (house­hold) be given one hectare on a des­ig­nated farm, with the re­main­ing land be­ing used for com­mon­age.

TotT will keep you up to date on the case on its web­site, www.talkof­thetown.co.za

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