Law comes to the aid of KZN land grab victim

The Pietermaritzburg High Court has made an interim interdict, preventing a group of land invaders from illegally occupying a piece of land in the nearby village of Hilton, its final order.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court has made an interim interdict, preventing a group of land invaders from illegally occupying a piece of land in the nearby village of Hilton, its final order. The relieved landowner, Rusty Roodt, said that he hopes that this is the end of the matter.

Late in October, community members of the Mpumuza Traditional Authority invaded Roodt’s 82ha land and began demarcating plots where they wanted to build houses. The invaders’ leader, Xolani Ndlovu, claimed that the land in fact was communal and that it belonged to the Ngonyama Trust, therefore making it available for use by the Mpumuza community.

When Roodt lodged an urgent application with the Pietermaritzburg High Court to have the invaders evicted, the presiding judge granted an interim interdict evicting the invaders. But Judge Ron McLaren also set 11 November as a date to allow Ndlovu to appear before the court to present proof of the invaders’ entitlement claims to the land. Ndlovu failed to appear in court on that date.

However, he did appear in court recently when Roodt applied to have the interim eviction order made final. The Witness reported that Judge David Ntshangase denied Ndlovu’s request for the matter to be adjourned until he could obtain legal counsel, and instead granted Roodt the final eviction order.

“One would hope that this is the last of the matter,” Roodt told Farmer’s Weekly. “The invaders have disappeared from my land, and I’m very happy with the law confirming the first interim eviction order. But I still feel that there will be some kind of fictitious land claim lodged against my land now.”

Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly on the phone, an audibly upset Ndlovu complained that Judge Ntshangase did not allow him an opportunity to present an argument before the eviction order was made final. Ndlovu added, “I’m going to challenge this decision. This is a political thing happening here.”

The land invaders’ leader also said that he would institute a charge of defamation against Roodt for allegedly alluding to the court that Ndlovu had been selling plots of Roodt’s land to invaders. “Why would I sell plots of land that belong to the Ngonyama Trust?” Ndlovu asked. He said he wasn’t given a chance to defend himself against what he called “lies”. “It’s not my land to sell. I’m not the chief. The community must now decide what to do about this.” – Lloyd Phillips