Pay up, family tells Impala Platinum
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