Farmer claims vandalising land claimants cost him R1,1 million

A mango and tomato farmer in the Trichardtsdal area of Limpopo is at his wits’ end in trying to get what he described as fair value from the Limpopo Land Claims Commission for his farm that was successfully claimed by a community.

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A mango and tomato farmer in the Trichardtsdal area of Limpopo is at his wits’ end in trying to get what he described as fair value from the Limpopo Land Claims Commission (LCC) for his 65ha Bloom Farm that was successfully claimed by a community.

Whiskey Kgabo bought and established his fruit farming business in the 1990s with a loan from Land Bank. But he had to move off the well-established farming operation in October 2009 when the land claimants moved onto the property.

Kgabo is demanding R2,6 million from the Limpopo LCC for the farm. He says this figure was calculated by an independent valuer he employed to value the operation soon before he moved off the property. However, the Limpopo LCC is only prepared to compensate Kgabo to the tune of R1,5 million, a figure he won’t accept.

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“The LCC sent its valuer in May 2011 when my farm had already been vandalised by the land claimants,” Kgabo told Farmer’s Weekly. “When I moved off the farm everything was in good condition and it was worth R2,6 million. The LCC wants to pay me R1,5 million because that’s what the property is worth now after the claimants vandalised it, stole fences and other things, and even started cutting down the mango trees.”

Meanwhile, Kgabo has been forced to live on communal land about 30km from Bloom Farm. Anticipating a successful resolution to his dispute with the Limpopo LCC, and still eager to re-establish himself as a commercial farmer on another property that he hopes to buy with his R2,6 million settlement, Kgabo has established a fruit tree nursery.

However, with no running water on the communal land, Kgabo has to personally fetch and carry the large quantities of water he needs to irrigate his 2,5 million citrus, mango, grape and palm seedlings.

“I’m looking for a farm very urgently and I would be very grateful for help from anyone, so that I can get my seedlings planted somewhere,” Kgabo continued. “I’ve been farming for 22 years, but I’m still young and farming is all that I know. What other job could I do?”

Kgabo is a member of Agri SA and this farmers’ union is also fighting government on his behalf. It recently tackled the issue with the minister of rural development and land reform, Gugile Nkwinti, who promised to investigate the matter.

“The officials [at the Limpopo LCC] have no mandate to pay Whiskey less than market value for his land. They haven’t even given him their valuation report,” Dr Theo de Jager, vice-president of farmers union Agri SA, pointed out. “The only reason why Whiskey moved off his land is because the LCC gave him seven days to vacate the property.”

In an earlier enquiry from Farmer’s Weekly to the Limpopo LCC on Kgabo’s problems, the response was that the commission would not budge on the price offer to the farmer. “The department appointed an independent valuer who valued the farm at R1,5 million which is the total market value and the department will not give him more than the stipulated amount. He was even given a signed copy of the valuation certificate. A meeting was recently held with Kgabo regarding the offer and [he] was given ample time to respond, but he has not yet responded.”

Attempts to get further comment from the Limpopo LCC on Kgabo’s concerns were unsuccessful. – Lloyd Phillips