Mabuza to testify in R1.2bn land scam case filed by businessman
Politicians allegedly sabotaged planned game reserve
David Mabuza is expected to testify in the Pretoria High Court in a billion-rand lawsuit brought by a businessman.
The lawsuit concerns a land scandal that allegedly occurred while Mabuza was Mpumalanga MEC of agriculture and land administration. Ecotourism businessman Fred
Daniel is suing the Mpumalanga government for R1.2-billion for profits lost while politicians allegedly sabotaged his Nkomazi wilderness game farm project in Badplaas.
Daniel is suing for “loss of corporate opportunities, loss of profit, loss of land values, loss of prospective profits, damages to the property and investments” and prejudice to his name and reputation. The respondents, 14 in total, include the land claims commissioner, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and the provincial agricultural department.
Deputy judge president Lettie Molopa has allocated 39 days for the civil case from July 19 to September 10 and the matter will be heard by judge Cassim Sardiwalla in the Pretoria High Court.
Mabuza’s spokesperson Matshepo Seedat said the deputy president’s office was aware of the matter and the allocated dates.
The businessman alleges that when he bought 89 farms from Afrikaaner farmers in the Badplaas and Barberton area, where Mabuza lives, he clashed with politicians who also wanted the same farms to rent out to corporate agricultural firms.
In court papers, Daniel alleges that from 1998 to 2004, he made various investigations about the farm dwellers on the portions of land he was buying, and whether there were any ongoing land claims. He alleges he found none, before proceeding to fence off the land for his envisioned safari lodge.
He said he was driven by a vision “to heal the earth” when he began buying these farms so that he could turn them into a world-class ecotourism-based game farming.
He alleges that when he began fencing off the farms into a single piece of land totalling 39 000 hectares, he became unpopular with politicians, who allegedly wanted control of the same land to lease to big corporates for farming.
He further alleges that the politicians were going to compile a list of supposedly land claimants and get the government to buy the land and lease it out to big corporates.
Daniel alleges a community trust was registered, called Ndwandwe Community Trust, with allegedly “false ID numbers” and was to be used by politicians to gain control of the
The Hawks also investigated the alleged inflation of land prices
land, while at the same time getting huge amounts of money in kickbacks from the government being charged inflated prices.
A document signed by Mabuza on January 6 2009, while he was land and agriculture MEC, ordering the government to pay R3.3-million towards the purchase of land for the trust, will form part of evidence at the Pretoria High Court during the civil trial.
The Nkomazi Wilderness project, which would include the construction of a seven-star hotel and bringing of the Big Five animals into the Badplaas and Barberton area, failed when community members allegedly mobilised through the Ndwandwe Community Trust by cutting off the fence, killing animals and threatening his life, accusing him of owning land that belongs to dispossessed community members.
Daniel alleges this was the work of Mabuza, who also chaired the Badplaas local land commission, who was angry because he was not able to cut a deal in the ecotourism business that was to be in the area.
The Hawks also investigated the alleged inflation of prices when the land was being bought by the government for the trust. The civil trial has 12 complainants, most of whom are businesspeople, and Mabuza is cited as a “minimal defendant”, meaning that no financial claim is made against him in person, but is included to answer for political meddling that also saw state institutions allegedly refusing Daniel permits to run the game reserve.