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Minister Didiza’s delayed intervention endangering Mtwalume land reform projects

Polity.org.za

18 July 2019

Minister Thoko Didiza must act immediately on her promise to intervene in the violent tensions surrounding land claims in the Mtwalume region. Despite an interdict granted to the Mathulini Communal Property Association on Wednesday, a further 66 hectares of cane were set alight on at the Ndelu farm on Wednesday night.

The interdict was granted after the Mathulini CPA approached the Land Claims Court last week following intensifying violence, arson and intimidation of workers in the area. A manager at one of the farms was thrown into a fire and hundreds of hectares of cane have been burnt on a number of farms in the last two weeks.

Although Minister Didiza has promised to intervene, she is not acting with the urgency the situation requires. The land reform beneficiaries in Mtwalume have lost much to the guerrilla tactics and violent land grabs of the ‘concerned group’. The situation remains tense, and further escalation risks irreparable damage to the crucial Mathulini and Ndelu projects.

The interim order prohibits members of the so-called ‘concerned group’ from interfering with the CPA, its representatives and employees; from entering any of their properties; and from assaulting, harming, damaging or threatening to assault, harm or damage the applicants or their property including their business. Yet this has not stopped the destructive rampage of the group.

The leader of the so-called ‘concerned group’ General Radebe and other members of his group are currently in contempt of two prior court orders. They will have to appear before the court on 30 October 2019 to stop a final order being granted which would declare them to be in contempt and sentencing them to prison for up to 60 days.

Minister Didiza together with Minister Cele have an obligation to act swiftly to restore law and order. Should they fail to protect the lives and property of workers and beneficiaries in the area, we expect the President and Parliament to hold them accountable. We need decisive police and government action immediately.