OPINION: Who will protect you when the ANC comes for the land?

I believe in economic redress, but have been persuaded by circumstances to believe that the ANC government should not drive the land expropriation programme. The ANC, if possible, should never be allowed anywhere near the country’s land.

This feeling is based on a lived experience, and I’m convinced that black people, who are expected to benefit from the expropriation, will be in trouble if the ANC were ever given the extra powers to do whatever it pleases with land. Of course, the ANC is just a political party, so it should not be feared. Political parties are not indispensable.

What is scary is when constitutional institutions, like the office of the Public Protector, choose to turn a blind eye on matters brought to their attention for action.

I have been told that in places like Mahikeng, North West, “it is not unusual for Public Protector staff to meet for dinner with the people one has complained against and toast over the case”. A former manager in that office once informed me of this, so I have no reason to doubt his authority. I have also placed the allegation before the Public Protector’s office and it has not been denied.

Let’s get to the story.

Sometime in 2013, a family living on one half of a leased state farm since 1997 woke up to a stranger with a caravan and five goats at the main gate.

The stranger lied that he had government permission to occupy the other half of the farm, which had previously belonged to a deceased business partner of the family, and began occupying it. Instead of evicting the illegal invader, government offered him a lease contract because he was a “struggling farmer”.

A short while after moving in, the five-goat farmer threatened to evict the family he found on the farm, boasting he was “connected” to then North West Premier and ANC provincial chairperson Supra Mahumapelo.

He claimed to have documentary proof that he owned the entire property, including the portion occupied by the family, and that if the family did not behave he would kick them out. At all times, the North West government was told about this abuse and harassment.

Mahumapelo said he knew nothing, but there is ample reason to believe our five-goat man did indeed have some connections with powerful people in the province.

Like in November 2014, when the provincial government handed him 40 state cattle valued up to half a million rands through the North West Nguni Cattle Development Project.

The problem was that he needed at least 350 hectares to qualify for the cattle funding and the portion he occupied was only 220ha – the same size as the family’s portion. Unless of course the powerful ANC people in government gave him a lease document showing that he also owned the family’s portion of the property, which would give him some 440ha.

You will later learn that the ANC Youth League in the province was also involved.

A flurry of developments happened at the farm. Multiple new windmills were installed and before they started working, vehicles belonging to the ANC-run district municipality regularly delivered tons of water for the five-goat farmer’s new animals.

To be clear, besides the five goats, the only other animals that our “struggling” farmer ever brought to the farm were the 40 state cattle, and government would later concede that they were acquired fraudulently.

On March 5 2016, some two days after the family put MEC for Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development Manketse Tlhape under pressure to explain the state cattle funding, government panicked and took the animals back. But 15 had disappeared.

Government said it “discovered” that the five-goat farmer had “misrepresented” the size of his illegally occupied farm and the animals were suffering and not looked after, according to a report.

The five-goat farmer was unhappy with the developments and sought a harassment order after the family blocked him from tampering with the main electricity supply without the permission of Eskom or government. But 30 minutes before the magistrate heard the application he disappeared and the case was thrown out. I was there.

A senior director in the provincial government would later confess that “the ANC Youth League boys” in his department were behind this illegal land invasion and fraud.

But the state-sponsored harassment did not stop and on Christmas Eve police arrived at the farm accompanied by a senior politician who was a former municipal manager at the same district municipality that used to deliver water for the five-goat farmer’s now gone state cattle.

The police wanted to search the property for stolen cattle, but did not have any search warrant. The family refused, but the officers were having none of it and arrested the family’s old man for defeating the ends of justice. The old man spent four nights in custody as a result of Christmas being on a weekend. On Wednesday morning, the first day of court, the prosecutor said there was no case to answer and ordered that the old man be released. To date the police are still silent.

In any case, the station commander at the stock theft unit confirmed that the old man was never a suspect and there was no case of stolen cattle against him. So there was no justice to be defeated in the first place.

Since February 2016, all this information was placed before the office of the Public Protector in Mahikeng. A closing report arrived on August 7, exonerating everyone involved from any wrongdoing, starting from the illegal invasion of a state farm to the fraudulent awarding of 40 state cattle.

The Public Protector did not think anyone should be held accountable. Instead, the Public Protector agreed government should proceed with new plans to grant the invader and fraudster a new lease for the property.

I know all of the above because it is my family that suffered the abuse and harassment sponsored by the ANC government. I have since requested a review of the Public Protector’s report, but I will not hold my breath.

There is ample evidence that my family’s ordeal is not isolated. Last week, Business Day reported the story of a black farmer in Limpopo, David Rakgase, who wants the court to force government to keep its promise to sell him the state farm he had leased. The farm was also invaded.

There is also the story of the Mothami sons, also in Mahikeng, who, according to those in the know, lost a farm they were born on to politically connected individuals after their old man passed away. Multiple farms in the area were targeted during that time under the guise that they were underutilised. Senior government officials and prominent persons benefited.

City Press also reported last weekend that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans and the SANDF refuses to comply with public protector’s report. The complainant, Lietenant Colonel Babalo Mvithi remains in the streets and unemployed after an unfair dismissal in 2012, while public protector Adv Busiswe Mkhwebane is busy tiptoeing around her powers to charge the minister with contempt, saying she has no money.

There is no doubt that the ANC will use its majority to push through the amendment to the property clause of the Constitution. We must hope that when the judges finally give the ANC powers to do as it pleases with the land, they does so with open eyes.

So who will protect you when the ANC henchmen take the land? If anything, this is a small window into the future. It is a microcosm of what could happen when crooked government officials and their ANC-connected acolytes get their filthy paws on land. You are in trouble.

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