Hundreds of families who were dispossessed of land which is now part of the Kruger National Park are being compensated to the tune of R84 million, President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.
Speaking at the compensation and handover celebration in the Ehlanzeni district municipality in Mpumalanga, he said six communities – three from Limpopo and three from Mpumalanga – were being compensated.
Although Kruger National Park was considered a conservation flagship, its treasure also constituted a collective memory, culture, and tradition of those who were dispossessed of this land.
“The claims which we are settling today [Saturday] form part of the various land claims lodged by different communities from the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces in respect of the park.
“These were all lodged before the first window of opportunity for the lodgement of claims, prior to the 1998 cut-off date. In settling these claims, we are giving effect to a Cabinet decision taken in 2008 regarding equitable redress as the only option for settling all land claims on the Kruger National Park,” he said.
The Cabinet decision took into consideration the status of the Kruger National Park as a national and international asset, which needed to be conserved for the benefit of the whole nation.
The decision paved a way for engagement with the affected communities, culminating in the resolution to settle the claims in two phases. Phase one involved the awarding of financial compensation, while phase two would involve a beneficiation scheme aimed at stimulating much needed economic activities within the affected municipal areas where the claimant communities lived.
“Today we are awarding a total amount of R84 million to six communities as part of phase one of the settlement of their claims on the Kruger National Park, in respect of land measuring in total extent of 318,000 hectares,” Zuma said.
In Mpumalanga, the Mhlanganisweni community and Sibuyi family comprising 116 households received R12.8 million; the Mathebula Ngirivhane community with 135 households R15 million; and the Mahashi community with 191 households received R21 million.
Two outstanding claims for the Phabeni and Gomondwane communities were still being attended to.
In Limpopo, the Madonsi/Nwazekuzeku community with 135 households received R14.9 million; the Ndindani community with a total of 52 households R5.7 million; and the Muyexe community with 128 households received R14.2 million.
Other outstanding claims were still being attended to involving the Makahane-Marithenga community; the Makhuva Mathebula community; and the Baphalaborwa communities, comprising Baphalaborwa ba Mashishimale, Baphalaborwa ba Maseke, Baphalaborwa ba Selwane and Baphalaborwa ba Makhushane, he said.
“The settlement model took into account the significance of the Kruger National Park as a home to an unparalleled diversity of wildlife and embraced an effort to save this national monument for generations to come.
“It was therefore agreed that the settlement model will be one that takes the very important role of conservation into account,” Zuma said.
South Africa Today – South Africa News