Land claimants seek “partnership” with DD Mabuza in war against Fred Daniel

Land claimants seek
FOR THE PEOPLE: Deputy president DD Mabuza is yet again being hauled to court by Badplaas game farmer Fred Daniel who accuses him of sabotaging his plans to build an ecotourist resort, but it now seems Mabuza will have the backing of the locals who are land claimants on the same piece of land and contend their claim of the land far precedes the date when the land was purchased by Daniel. PICTURE BY 013NEWS/ZK

The claimants say they will use the opportunity presented by the civil claim to try win back their land.

A group of land claimants affected by the state’s delays in giving back what they say is their land plan to “partner” with deputy president DD Mabuza as he goes to war with Badplaas businessman Fred Daniel over the same land in question.

The claimants said it was concerning that the two were fighting over a piece of land that “belongs to us without us”.

“We are seeking the correct legal advice. Perhaps we can be in partnership with Mabuza in court and challenge all the lies being told by Fred Daniel, so we finally win our land back,” one of the land claimants, Sfiso Maseko who is also secretary of the group of elders claiming portions of the Nkomazi Game Reserve, said this week.

He said they don’t want Mabuza and Daniel “to discuss our land without us, because we are the claimants that Daniel is denying exist”.

Land claimants seek "partnership" with DD Mabuza in war against Fred Daniel
Elders belonging to the Aventour Land Group discuss during a meeting in Tjakastad on 11 July 2020

ALSO SEE: Nkomazi Game Reserve and group of elders go to war

City Press this week reported that Daniel is suing the Mpumalanga government an amount of R1.09 billion for damages caused to his nature reserve business – of which Mabuza is amongst the 25 defendants being dragged to court.

The period covers the era dating 2004 to 2008 – and beyond – when Mabuza was land affairs MEC and thereafter Premier.

Daniel is suing the state for “loss of corporate opportunities” after being allegedly sabotaged while he was busy buying land and establishing the Badplaas nature reserve as well as “loss of profit, loss of land values, loss of prospective profits, damages to the property and investments” and prejudice to his good name and reputation.

The court papers say “such losses, damages and prejudice could reasonably have, and should have, been avoided had the various defendants at all relevant times acted lawfully and without exerting duress” on Daniel.

Land claimants seek "partnership" with DD Mabuza in war against Fred Daniel
Fred Daniel, owner of the Cradle of Life Nkomazi Wilderness in Badplaas, Mpumalanga

Daniel said before acquiring the Badplaas land that totals 39 000 hectares, he had first conducted investigations and discovered the land was under no land claim but this is challenged by the claimants who say a claim had already been lodged long before Daniel set his eyes on the farm-turned-nature reserve.

“Fred is going to loose this case because the facts are completely contrary to what he alleges,” Maseko said. 

ALSO SEE: Fred Daniel says Mabuza is trying to discredit him

“He is lying that there were no claims when he arrived in around 2004 or something – the claims date back to 1998 and the records can prove that,” the claimant said.

Daniel said he had to sell parts of the land in 2008 after being harassed by community members who cut his fence and caused immeasurable damage to the property, including the death of wild animals.

Land claimants seek "partnership" with DD Mabuza in war against Fred Daniel
The claimants say the records show they were evicted in 1972 and lodged the claims in December 1998

013NEWS two weeks ago saw scores of papers written by government investigators detailing the history of the Doyershoek farm 702 JT, known as Mawelawela by the land claimants and which is part of the 12 000 hectares where the Nkomazi Game Reserve is.

The research, conducted by Professor Peter Delius, Dr Michelle Hay and Musawenkosi Malabela on behalf of the Land Claims Commission, was released in 2017 and speaks of Willem Doyers as the first white man who arrived on the farm in 1872 and found the great grand-fathers of the current land claimants.

ALSO SEE: Woman in DD Mabuza and Fred Daniel brawl arrested

The main claimant for the land is the Zulu family and claims the land on behalf of other families like the Mlotshwa, Masina, Maseko, Ngwenya, Matsebula families, etc with whom they resided on the farm before an eviction in 1972 by new farm owner John van Niekerk, who demolished homes and put in livestock.

In 2001 the farms were declared a “nature reserve” by government despite an ongoing land claim lodged by the Zulu family in 1998.

They were then acquired by Daniel and transformed into an ecotourism game reserve.

Land claimants seek "partnership" with DD Mabuza in war against Fred Daniel
The Nkomazi Game Reserve ecotourism attraction

But in 2008, as Daniel continued to institute forced removals against the farm-dwellers, thereby forcing the surrounding community of Badplaas to protest against this, he sold much of the land while at the same time suing the Mpumalanga government for R740 million over money lost while the community members vandalised the property in protest against the forced removal and demolishing of the homes of farm-dwellers.

ALSO SEE: Workers at Fred Daniel’s Craddle of Life Nature Reserve are not paid, some quit

“We have been claiming the land through the Land Claims Commission since 1998. 

“The government hired a lawyer for us and the lawyer since then he never updated us on anything and we suspected something wrong was happening, like corruption because when we phoned him he promised us he would come back to us and he never did,” the claimants said. 

“So now we are seeing that the matter is in court and believe we should form part as affected parties in the ongoing battles of the powerful,” Maseko said.

On 27 August 2018, the Carolina Magistrates Court labelled Daniel as a dishonest person after he failed to provide the proper evidence why he wanted to be granted a protection order against Mabuza.

He had applied for a temporary protection order against Mabuza, accusing him of using his position to harass and sabotage his Badplaas business by supporting land claimants over a tourist area.

Magistrate Sarel Grabe said Daniel was manufacturing the allegations against Mabuza and dismissed his application to have the temporary protection order made permanent.

(edited by MLM)

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