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New multi-million land claim for Richards Bay

A rural KwaZulu-Natal community has laid claim to a swathe of gum-tree plantations – on top of a pending multimillion-rand land claim – in Richards Bay, South Africa’s largest deep-water harbour and thriving industrial city. Inkosi Mchazeni Mthiyane has lodged a new land claim on behalf of the Mambuka traditional authority for several privately owned gum-tree plantations to the north and south of Richards Bay. The trees are bought by Mondi and Sappi to make paper and pulp.


The claim, which covers 4856ha, is also threatening the uMhlathuze municipality’s proposed, long-awaited multimillion-rand Aquadene housing project, thus jeopardising expansion in the port city. According to a report presented to uMhlathuze’s executive committee last month, the claim, which could “potentially” affect a large part of Richards Bay, was lodged in December.


It is an amendment to a pending land claim by the community lodged in 1996 by Mthiyane’s late grandfather, Inkosi Mphangwa Mthiyane. The claim was declared valid by the KwaZulu-Natal Land Claims Commission in 2004 and valued at R390-million. The original claim covered the city’s CBD, the port and suburbs such as Meerensee. It covered an area bounded on the east by Lake Mzingazi and on the west by Lake Imfezi.


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