A disastrous effect of land expropriation without compensation became evident when hectares of grass destined for emerging farmers were allegedly reduced to ash on Sunday, Lowvelder reports.
Hennie Mentz, owner of Montabello Farm bordering the KaBokweni Road, says he watched helplessly and in fear when hundreds of Tekwane residents illegally occupied his property.
Mentz said he left for church in the morning, and upon his return, his property had been alight. “It was horrific to see. We felt threatened,” he said. The farmer said the group of people started marking out plots on the piece of land.
Though the majority were aware that it was privately owned, they said a political party had sent them. No one would divulge which party it was.
“The land is unused, and therefore we will take it to build our houses on, to farm, to start a business and to use as a cemetery,” one of the protesters said.
They set the veld alight to make access easier, after which they started pegging the patch of land out. Little did they know that the very grass they had destroyed was actually about to be baled and sold to farmers in barren areas in the province.
“There was no fear for the police,” said DA shadow deputy minister of rural developments and land reform Ken Robertson, who arrived shortly after what had transpired, fearing it would degenerate into conflict between the members of the public who came out to protect the land and the land grabbers.
“The invaders who were pegging out stands showed no respect for the SAPS, and as the police mobilised towards groups of invaders, they would just circle around them and continue to peg out stands for houses,” said Robertson.
Eight people were arrested for alleged trespassing, arson and malicious damage to property, police spokesperson Colonel Motsholi Bhembe confirmed.