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Joy for Mala Mala land claimants

Members of the N’wandlamhlarhi Community Property Association are proud landowners after their land claim was finalised.

Land handover by President Jacob Zuma.President Jacob Zuma gave the title deeds for the land, which comprises the Mala Mala Game Reserve in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, to the association recently.

“We are very happy that this claim has been concluded and that land is being handed over today. The restoration of land to rightful owners is one of the biggest responsibilities you gave the democratic government.

“We have made a lot of progress, but work still continues. I am pleased to note that the current landowners of the Mala Mala land have accepted the validity of the claim and have not declared any dispute about the merits of the claim,” the President said.

The number of households and total number of beneficiaries of the restitution project on properties owned by Mala Mala Game Ranch (Pty) Ltd is estimated to be 960 and 5 760 respectively.

The claimed land falls within the Bushbuckridge Municipality in Ehlanzeni District, one of the prioritised districts by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform due to the high levels of poverty.

The claimed land includes the Mala Mala Game Reserve, which is currently operating as an internationally renowned game farm and ecotourism destination.

Negotiations for the settlement of the claim on the land began in earnest in May 2008 when an initial formal offer was made for the acquisition of the 12 855 hectares.

“As the Mala Mala claimants you lodged claims against 21 properties consisting of 63 portions, measuring 65 000 hectares as the total extent.

“After lengthy negotiations, the legal representatives of the land owners considered a settlement amount of R 939 360 000, close to a billion rand for the purchase of the land in respect of the 13 184 hectares. These properties are fully utilised as game land,” President Zuma noted.

The President added that he was aware that the majority of claimants were currently living in and around the Lillydale area, which borders the claimed land.

The conditions were less than favourable as there was inadequate infrastructure development, most of the households lived in poverty and there were high levels of unemployment. The successful land claim would bring hope to the community, President Zuma noted.

Written by SA News