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.
NewLY affected farmers urged to contact Neave Stotter Attorneys
Pineapple farmer Brandon Calitz and his family were alerted to the case when an associate notified him that the area where they farm was included in the 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. According to the map, the area is roughly 3 200m2.
“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.
“We have no idea what is going on, and have no bearing (sic) on this. For whatever reason this is the first time we hear that this area is included in the demarcated area,” he 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.
“It is imperative to sign your affidavit with Noel Stötter before close of day as they are allowing until close of day today to do so,” Calitz said.
It is imperative to sign your affidavit with Noel Stötter before close of day as they are allowing until close of day today to do so
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, Sun International has indicated it 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. Part of the Sun Internationals’ stance is that they will only be involved during the transition period.
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. This was accepted in principle by all three parties.
Last Wednesday it seemed that chief judge on the three-judge panel, Yasmine Meer, would tie up proceedings that day, but a week later the claim seem far from concluded.
TotT will keep you up to date on the case on www.talkofthetown.co.za.
By ROB KNOWLES and LOUISE CARTER