For Immediate Release
06 April 2022
Victorious Prudhoe land claim finally reaps some rewards
MAKHANDA — The LRC is pleased to confirm that on Thursday 31 March 2022, the Prudhoe Community took transfer and possession of the Fish River Properties which house the Fish River hotel and golf course. This is an important milestone in the restitution of the community’s land rights. While 24 other farm properties still need to be transferred to the community in terms of an order of the Land Claims Court in April 2018, the community celebrates the progress made.
The community has also entered into a lease agreement on April 1 with a private company (Forus Digitals) that will rent the Fish River properties from the Prudhoe Community. There are extremely exciting plans to develop the property in a number of ways including the building of film studios. The LRC and the Prudhoe Community are also grateful for the facilitation role that the Vumelana Advisory Fund played in bringing the community together with Forus Digitals. As a result of the Vumela facilitated agreement, all staff that were employed by the hotel have been retained and are now employed by the new lessee in order to help run the hotel and the grounds. The golf course remains open, and the hotel is likely to reopen soon. It is an asset with great potential and the community is pleased that it will continue to function, and hopefully expand.
The next phase of the restitution process will see the community pushing to have the agricultural farms that were also awarded to the community restored in the near future.
The Prudhoe land matter dates back to 1998 with the Mazizini community and the Prudhoe community both claiming the land between the Fish and Mpekweni rivers in the Eastern Cape from which the latter were brutally and forcefully removed by the Ciskei government in the late 1980s. Following two trials in the Land Claims Court, three appeals to the Supreme Court of Appeal, and two trips to the Constitutional Court, the country’s apex court in 2020, finally put an end to years-long legal wrangling and awarded the land in question to the approximately 350 families that make up the Prudhoe Community.
Land dispossession is a blight from our country’s history, since colonisation, and exacerbated during apartheid. The failure to fix the system and to realise land rights has been compounded by rampant state corruption and maladministration which has decimated provincial land reform budgets, prioritised disingenuous land claims and ushered in the industrial sector’s access to land for profit. The prevailing reality is that the vast majority of poor and lower-income black South Africans continue to be denied access to the right to security of tenure and the right to a sense of self-worth and dignity. We hope these recent developments at Prudhoe signal a sign of brighter things to come.
For additional information:
Cameron McConnachie (LRC attorney) firstname.lastname@example.org
Gladman Tom (Prudhoe Community) email@example.com / 064 005 2331
Mazwi Mkhulisi (Vumelana Advisory Fund) Mmkhulisi@vumelana.org.za