Winning Story 2016: Hear our plea for land

Closer to the Drakensberg Mountain, and the UThukela River, stands a number of households which fall under the aMazizi Nation, led by Chief Miya.

In 1990, upon hearing about the democratic elections, the landowner on the farm where we are residing left the farm and returned back to his original home. Soon after this, residence started using the farm for livestock grazing.

Winner 2016
Mr. Sipho Ndlovu, the winner of the 2016 TA story writing competition. Photo: Tom Draper

In 1997 a young white man came to the farm and claimed that he was the son of the previous land owner. He gave us the right to continue using the land. He indicated that he had no intentions of using the farm. The young man was immediately taken to the Chief to formally give the land to the community.

The Chief called the community and informed us that the land has been given to us. The community worked together to fence the farm. In that very same year, the community was alerted about Government process of buying land for people. Chief Miya put in a claim for the community on three farms, including the one we are already occupying (Trilby Farm, claim no. N6/2/2/E/3/0/0/14 and 10).

In 2005, a young white woman who goes by the name Cindy came to the farm. She started harassing people on the farm, claiming that the farm belonged to her. A lot of families vacated the farm in 2008 when another person by the name of Terence Yonker (Cindy’s boyfriend) came, also claiming that the farm belonged to him. He removed the fencing that the community had installed and sent police to threaten families on the farm. Many families left the farm and only a few remained.

In 2010, I built a small shack in the farm to keep a close watch at the livestock, because we were losing a lot of our livestock. Terence did not like this and the matter ended up with the police getting involved. We were informed that our matter needed the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to intervene and solve.

Disputes between myself and Terence were happening at a time when I had just joined the farmer’s organisation (New Stand Farmers Association), which we were assisted by FSG to establish. FSG is an organisation which assists small scale farmers. In 2013, I became part of the land rights caravan campaign which included people from different provinces whose rights to land were also being violated. We were all calling for our rights to be recognised and protected. The Caravan launched in Pietermaritzburg and ended in Pretoria, where we handed over a memorandum of our concerns. We are still waiting for the concerns raised to be resolved.

In 2015, a man by the name of Dr. Lee came and put fencing around the farm. When we enquired about it, we were told that he bought the farm from Terence Yonker. This was done without notifying us occupants. Dr. Lee banned households from keeping livestock. He brought in his own livestock and used the land we had been using for his livestock to graze. As a result, our livestock is dying of hunger and the drought. We do not know what would happen in the Spring season, our livelihood has been affected.

After so many years, residing and grazing on this farm, it is very sad that it was taken from us so easily. We question whether it is because we do not have money or because of the colour of our skin or mainly because our laws favours certain people. Nobody has responded to our plea, we also need our right to be recognised and protected.

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