FISH RIVER WEST FARMERS STUNNED BY ADDITIONAL LAND CLAIM
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