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Claimants run winning agri-project

Written by Thandeka Mwelase
Residents of Nkanini-Qwabe in Stanger, Ilembe will now be able to participate in the agricultural economy after KZN’s Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Themba Mthembu, together with the Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights, officially handed over title deeds worth R140 million to the community.

The Nkanini community was dispossessed of their land rights in 1971.

The department also launched the Qwabe-Nkanini Sugarcane Project, which received about R16 million in funding for ratoon management and infrastructure development.

Shortly after 1994, the late Inkosi Thembinkosi Gumede lodged a land claim on behalf of his community. The claimants opted for land restoration instead of financial compensation. They formed a Communal Property Association (CPA), made up of 180 households and 1 104 beneficiaries and registered an operating company known as the Qwabe-Nkanini Farming Enterprise. The board of trustees has nine members. MEC Themba Mthembu (centre) together with vice chairman of the South African Sugar Association Suresh Naidoo, Inkosi Zakhele Gumede and Dr Zungu visiting the Nkanini-Qwabe Sugarcane Project.

The CPA has a strategic partnership with a local farmer and also employs managers to make sure that their farming operation is a success. The enterprise grows sugarcane, bananas, macadamia nuts, litchis and cut flowers.

Inkosi Zakhele Gumede said that the people felt very blessed to get back their land.

“I can’t believe that I am holding our title deed. Thanks to the government for facilitating the process from 2009 up until today, the late Inkosi is resting well knowing that his people are finally the rightful owners of this land that was taken from them,” he said.

MEC Mthembu said the Qwabe-Nkanini Community Claim is a land reform success story. 

“The beneficiaries are an example of how land reform farms can become productive and contribute to the economy and food security in the country. The launch of the R16 million Qwabe-Nkanini sugarcane project highlights the importance of partnerships in growing the agricultural sector.”

The Nkanini farming project employs 75 people but as the project develops more than 117 jobs will be created. The Qwabe Secondary Cooperative has a total of 892 beneficiaries with 349 people employed by the cooperative. An additional 87 jobs will be created.

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