Land claim reaps re­wards

Vuk'uzenzele - - Front Page - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

A KWAZULU-NATAL (KZN)

The first black­owned pri­vate game re­serve is on the cards for KZN, thanks to a R15 mil­lion govern­ment in­vest­ment to the May­ibuye Com­mu­nity Trust.

The word may­ibuye, which means to re­turn in isiZulu, is also the name of the 5 581-hectare May­ibuye Game Re­serve which is lo­cated be­tween Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and Dur­ban.

The land be­ing re­turned to the com­mu­nity was taken via forced re­movals in 1963, which saw 445 peo­ple lose their homes.

Chair­per­son of the re­serve Wel­come Maphanga said the com­mu­nity was re­lo­cated to

KwaXimba, near Cato Ridge.

“In 2003 we set up a trust and reg­is­tered our claim with the Land Com­mis­sion. The claim was suc­cess­ful and our land was given back to us in 2007."

After they got their land back the com­mu­nity de­cided to es­tab­lish May­ibuye Game Re­serve.

The re­serve was as­sessed by the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Ste­ward­ship Pro­gramme and given the sta­tus of a pri­vate game re­serve.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is a sub­sidiary of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs. The pro­gramme is a guide for the wise use, man­age­ment and pro­tec­tion of land.

Maphanga said they had to look for in­vestors so that they could de­velop the land.

The ben­e­fit­ting com­mu­ni­ties will have a 51 per­cent share in the com­pany that is rolling out the ex­cit­ing new de­vel­op­ment.

The May­ibuye Game Re­serve has cre­ated 78 job op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing field rangers and ad­min­is­tra­tion clerks.

Com­mu­nity mem­ber and of­fice clerk Them­bile Phetha said she is happy to be part of the re­serve.

“I was sit­ting at home for years and couldn’t find a job. I am also very happy that I am able to pro­vide for my­self and my fam­ily,” she said. Com­mu­nity el­der Khu­phula Mchunu (83) who is a trustee said he can now die a happy man be­cause he knows that the re­serve will be com­pleted and that the land has been re­turned.

“Our in­vestors helped us to fence the re­serve but un­for­tu­nately the fence was van­dalised. We had to start all over again. This is the third time we are fenc­ing the re­serve,” said Maphanga. For­tu­nately, the KZN Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture res­cued the trust, with R5 mil­lion boost in fund­ing.

“The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs gave us a fur­ther R10 mil­lion,” Maphanga con­firmed. Govern­ment’s fund­ing en­abled the re­serve to erect a 45 km wildlife fence, a gate house and build of­fices.

“In ad­di­tion, two houses have been re­fur­bished and con­verted into project of­fices. Wildlife in­tro­duc­tions have been ini­ti­ated, in­clud­ing the pur­chase of gi­raffe, ze­bra, wilde­beest, kudu and other species.

Maphanga said that once com­plete, the re­serve will of­fer game drives and walks, con­fer­enc­ing and wed­ding fa­cil­i­ties, two lodges, a spa, restau­rants, a world-class wildlife re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­ity and se­lect breed­ing pro­grammes.

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