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Land claims – but farms just fail

26 Oct 2010

Land claims in Badplaas saw the government buy 56 farming units in 2004 and 36 000 hectares of land was transferred to claimants in the area. The government apparently paid R72-million for the land.

Within six weeks of a Badplaas farm being handed over to the Ndwandewe Community Trust in 2004, the farm was being vandalised and widespread thefts were occurring claims Ockert van Niekerk, chairman of the Carolina Farmers’ Union.

He says the farm used to produce grapes, lemons, maize, tomatoes, tobacco and soya beans but today the land is not used, the pump station on the farm has been stripped and metal pieces sold to scrap dealers in Mpumalanga.

Today the land is not being farmed at all and Van Niekerk says that vandals have removed Eskom aluminium cables, destroyed generators and even set fire to the fallow lands, causing further environmental damage. 

He says that of the 56 farms bought by the government, only six are still operating.

Spokesman for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, Eddie Mohoebi says that his department has already identified 504 land claim projects that had failed and blamed conflicts within individual communities for the failure.

He says that corruption, differences in the way land is used, inadequate access to finance and a lack of skills is most often the cause for the failure of these farms.

The Transvaal Agricultural Union estimates that almost 70% of the land in Mpumalanga was subjected to land claims but the union is fighting each case claiming that these claims do not have a legal basis.

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Paddy Hartdegen

Paddy Hartdegen

Freelance columnist at

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