Home Editors Choice They got the land back! But now it lays barren...

They got the land back! But now it lays barren…

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It’s one thing getting the land back, but it’s an entirely different ball game to farm. This is the reality faced by 139 disillusioned land reform beneficiaries who don’t have the capital to utilise their R26 million farm.

The beneficiaries of the Sephikatswana Community Property Association (CPA) in Vaalwater, Limpopo received 3 800 hectares of land from the provincial department of agriculture last year. Their forebears were dispossessed of the land during apartheid.

The 58-year-old livestock farmer and beneficiary, Josiah Mophuting, tells Food For Mzansi that they simply do not have the financial resources to use the land for its intended farming purposes. The land is shared between 51 households who haven’t done any work on the farm.

READ: Release of state land ‘could fall flat on delivery,’ warn agri leaders

58-year-old livestock farmer and beneficiary, Josiah Mophuting from Vaalwater in Limpopo. Photo: Supplied

“We don’t have funds yet,” says Mophuting. “The Limpopo department of agriculture, land reform and rural development visited us two weeks ago and they promised to help us with funding. We took them to the farm, and we gave them all our proposals to put our business ventures in motion. So, we are currently waiting for feedback before we can start executing our proposed plans.”

Mophuting says that they plan to use the land for agricultural purposes. “What we think of doing right now, is poultry, piggery and vegetables. On the other side of the farm, we also have Bushmen paintings where people can come and look at them.”

He says that should they acquire enough capital, they will also build a game farm and a lodge. Each of the 139 beneficiaries will benefit from commission raised and they will also share the dividends at year-end once their business ventures takes off.

However should they not receive funding they will continue leasing a portion of the land. “There is someone who is renting on the land paying R15000 per month then maybe out of that will be able to do something on the farm,” he says.

Land claimed through community resolution

Nicholas Magada from the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development in Limpopo. Photo : Supplied.

The Sephukatswana claimants received the land after the late Lesiba Silas Molekwa lodged a land claim on behalf of the community. The claim was lodged on the Eucalyptus 763 KR farm in the Modimolle-Mookgophong local municipality in the Waterberg district of Limpopo, says Nicholas Magada, communications manager of the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development in Limpopo.

Magada explains that Molekwa indicated in a community resolution that he was claiming on behalf of the Molekwa, Matlhabegoana, Mophuting, Ntlodibe, Moatshe, Mokau, Seodisa, Mosehla, Koopedi, Kekae and Manyane households, to name a few.

The beneficiaries needed to claim the land with the commission on the restitution of land rights before the cut-off date of 31 December 1998. The commission investigated and processed restitution claims.

“To get the rightful people, the commission then had to conduct a claimant verification from February to March 2018 to determine the rightful beneficiaries,” says Magada. The claimant verification list of beneficiaries was then adopted on 15 April 2018 at New Eersterust and Hammanskraal in Gauteng.

Magada say the Sephikitswana beneficiaries will receive funding as soon as funds are available.

“We do support the farm financially through the land development support programme. The farmers had to develop a business plan and then the amount we give them is guided by the business plan. Once they submit the business plan then the department will decide when to give them the funds depending on the availability of the funds,” he says.

In the meantime, the beneficiaries are leasing the farm he says but he adds that the beneficiaries were supposed to have money prepared to run the farm even before making a lodge claim.

“Remember when you lodge a claim, and the process is in motion you need to prepare yourself financially to utilise the farm. So, you don’t wait to be given a farm and then you say ‘no we want money’ you must be prepared. They should have prepared themselves because our assistance is just additional support,” he says.

Sinesipho Tom
Sinesipho Tom
Sinesipho Tom is an audience engagement journalist at Food for Mzansi. Before joining the team, she worked in financial and business news at Media24. She has an appetite for news reporting and has written articles for Business Insider, Fin24 and Parent 24. If you could describe Sinesipho in a sentence you would say that she is a small-town girl with big, big dreams.
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