King taken to court over rents

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - SIZWE SAMA YENDE

ZULU­ King­ Good­will­ Zwelithini­ has­been­served­with­court­pa­pers­in­a­bidto­com­pel­him­to­stop­forc­ing­oc­cu­pier­sof­ land­ that­ falls­ un­der­ his­ In­gonya­maTrust­to­pay­rent.

King­Zwelithini­is­the­sole­trus­tee­ofIn­gonyama­Trust,­which­has­ju­ris­dic­tionover­30%­or­2,8­mil­lion­hectares­of­the­p­rovince’s­land.

Ac­cord­ing­to­court­pa­pers­filed­in­thePi­eter­mar­itzburg­ high­ court­ by­ theCoun­cil­ for­ the­ Ad­vance­ment­ of­ theSouth­ African­ Con­sti­tu­tion­ (Casac),Ru­ral­Women’s­Move­ment­and­in­di­vid­ual­land­oc­cu­piers­on­the­trust-held­land,the­trust­and­its­board­be­gan­can­celling­per­mis­sion-to-oc­cupy­ agree­ments­ in2007­and­forc­ing­res­i­dents­to­en­ter­into40-year­lease­agree­ments­in­stead.

These­leases­cost­an­oc­cu­pier­between­ R1­500­and­R7­000­ev­ery­year,­de­pend­ing­on­the­size­of­the­plot.

In­the­pa­pers­served­on­King­Zwelithiniyes­ter­day,­ Casac­ ar­gues­ the­ In­gon­-yama­Trust­and­its­board­acted­un­law­fully­and­vi­o­lated­the­Con­sti­tu­tion.

Casac­also­con­tends­that­land­right­sand­se­cu­rity­of­ten­ure­for­res­i­dents­livin­gon­tribal­land­are­pro­tected­un­der­theIn­terim­Pro­tec­tion­of­Land­Rights­Act31­of­1996.

Tra­di­tional­ lead­ers­ do­ not­ own­ the­land­un­der­their­ju­ris­dic­tion,­but­man­age­it­on­be­half­of­na­tional­gov­ern­ment.

Casac­ex­ec­u­tive­sec­re­tary­Law­son­Naidoo­said­in­his­found­ing­af­fi­davit­thatthe­trust­and­its­board­had­also­vi­o­lat­ed­cus­tom­ary­law.

“Since­2007,­the­trust­and­board­has­been­un­der­min­ing­the­se­cu­rity­of­tenureof­res­i­dents­and­oc­cu­piers­of­trust-held­land­ in­ KwaZulu-Na­tal­ and­ ex­tort­ing­ money­from­them­by­un­law­fully­com­pelling­them­to­con­clude­these­agree­mentsand­pay­rental­to­the­trust­to­con­tin­ue­liv­ing­on­the­land,”­Naidoo­said.

Res­i­dents­or­oc­cu­piers,­Naidoo­added,­were­threat­ened­by­let­ters­of­de­man­dif­they­did­not­pay­and­were­“vul­ner­a­bleto­evic­tion”.

“The­ trust­ and­ the­ board­ as­sumedand­ex­er­cised­pow­ers­they­do­not­have,but­which­are­vested­in­the­min­is­ter­ofru­ral­de­vel­op­ment­and­land­re­form­andthe­KwaZulu-Na­tal­MEC­for­co-op­er­a­tive­gov­er­nance­and­tra­di­tional­af­fairs,”he­said­in­court­pa­pers.

Casac­wants­the­trust­and­board­in­ter­dict­ed­from­ en­ter­ing­ into­ lease­ agree­ments­with­the­king­dom’s­res­i­dents­andto­ can­cel­ any­ lease­ agree­ment­ al­readysigned.­It­also­wants­them­to­re­fund­all­money­col­lected.

“The­trust­and­board­are­in­ter­dicted­ from­tak­ing­fur­ther­steps­and/or­en­gag­ing­in­any­con­duct­to­per­suade­or­in­duceany­per­son­who­held­or­holds­[Per­mis­sion­to­Oc­cupy]­rights­or­[In­terim­Pro­tec­tionof­ Land­ Rights­ Act]­ rights­ in­trust-held­land­to­con­clude­a­lease­agree­ment­with­the­trust­with­out­fur­nish­ing­such­rights­hold­ers­with­com­plete­an­dac­cu­rate­in­for­ma­tion­about­their­ex­ist­ing­land­rights­and­the­na­ture­and­ef­fectof­the­lease­agree­ment,”­Casac­said­in­court­pa­pers.

The­ in­come­ from­ these­ rentals­ in­creased­ev­ery­fi­nan­cial­year,­ac­cord­ingto­ Naidoo’s­ found­ing­ af­fi­davit,­ whichquotes­an­nual­re­ports­and­pre­sen­ta­tion­s­made­to­the­KwaZulu-Na­tal­leg­is­la­ture.

In­the­2016/2017­fi­nan­cial­year,­the­In­gonya­maTrust­ col­lected­ more­ thanR106,8­mil­lion­in­rentals.­These­col­lec­tions­have­been­in­creas­ing­ev­ery­year­as­more­and­more­res­i­dents­have­been­sign­ing­the­agree­ments.­When­these­lease­ agree­ments­ came­ into­ ef­fect,­ the­ trust­col­lected­about­R8,4­mil­lion.

The­lease­agree­ments­re­quire­oc­cu­pier­sto­ ob­tain­ per­mis­sion­ to­ build­ and­must­ record­ all­ im­prove­ments­ on­ the­land­and­sub­mit­records­to­the­In­gonyama­Trust.­The­trust­is­en­ti­tled­to­can­celthe­lease­if­an­oc­cu­pier­fails­to­pay.

King­Zwelithini­has­been­on­the­warpath­to­pro­tect­the­land­un­der­the­In­gonyama­Trust­since­the­ANC­an­nounced­its­ plans­ to­ ex­pro­pri­ate­ land­ with­out­com­pen­sa­tion.

He­has­joined­forces­with­Afrikan­er­lobby­group­AfriFo­rum,­which­has­been­ve­he­mently­op­posed­to­this­pol­icy.

A­date­for­the­hear­ing­in­the­Pi­eter­mar­itzburg­high­court­will­be­set­once­thek­ing’s­ le­gal­ team­ has­ looked­ into­ the­mat­ter­ and­ filed­ re­spond­ing­ pa­pers,should­they­wish­to­do­so.­—­City­Press.

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