Clashes over access to disputed farm as residents demand owner to give up the land

Residents who have been declared illegal occupiers of a farm outside Dalmada, Polokwane, staged a protest on Sunday, demanding that the private owner give up the land.

They have accused the land owner, Blue Dot Properties (Pty) Ltd, of ruining their peaceful and uninterrupted possession of Portion 41 on Kalkfontein farm, which has since been renamed Morena Seaka View.

The residents, many of whom have already erected modest houses on the land, had a stand-off with the company's security guards when they demanded that road barricades be removed.

Supported by the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco), the residents then removed all the road barricades.

Sanco provincial spokesperson told News24: "We are supporting the residents because we believe their rights are being undermined.

"There are some politicians who have interests in this land, hence there is a slow movement in resolving the matter."

Police had to intervene and a temporary "truce" was reached, with the residents being allowed uninterrupted access to the land until the matter has been finalised in the Limpopo High Court.

But Blue Dot spokesperson Ike Kekana said the "truce" between police and the residents was illegal.

"The residents are not supposed to do anything on the land. Up to now, the land belongs to Blue Dot," Kekana said.

The residents have launched an application to force Blue Dot to surrender the land, which they say the Rural Development and Land Reform Department gave them rights to under the Restitution of Land Rights Act.

The application is to be heard on a date yet to be decided.

Blue Dot-contracted security guards and the residents have had intermittent clashes since March this year, when the company attempted to enforce an eviction order obtained in the Limpopo High Court in 2015.

The matter dates back to 1996 when four tribal clans – Mojapelo, Mothiba, Tholongwe and Mothapo, collectively known as Mamahule – launched a land claim against the farm.

But before it was finalised, apportioned stands were demarcated and, according to residents' claims and documents seen by News24, sold for R2 500 before they shot up to R120 000 in 2019.

A senior member of the Mojapelo traditional authority, Francina Ngwanamaredi Sebati, said the occupation was started in agreement with the Polokwane municipality and land authorities as a "protection settlement".

Sebati, who is also the head of the Morena Seaka Home Owners' Association at the forefront of demarcation and selling of sites, said the municipality encouraged the formation of the association for communication.

She denied the money paid by the occupiers was for the selling of sites.

"We agreed with the people that contribution would be R5 000 for clearing the area and legal costs. We never said we were selling sites," she previously told News24.

For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.