Acting BaPedi king, Kenneth Sekhukhune III, who owns 30 farms, housing over 30 mines in the Sekhukhune land, has vowed to shed every last drop of blood in his quest to reclaim land that belonged to his ancestors, through the process of land expropriation without compensation.
The mineral-rich mining region of Sekhukhune has seen plenty of jostling for mining rights at the department of mineral resources.
Sekhukhune, which has one of the fastest growing economies in the country, is rich in as many as 66 minerals, including chrome, platinum and diamonds.
“This land wherein these mines are sitting is the land of our forefathers. It belongs to us. We must make sure that we fight together with everything we have to win back our land,” said Sekhukhune to the delight of the residents who responded with thunderous applause from the packed Mohlaletsi sports ground over the weekend.
Sekhukhune said the fertile land was forcefully taken away from the BaPedi clan by the British colonisers in 1879. This included private owned farms, crown land, land company farms and mission land.
He said between 1922 and 1953, over 32 farms, in areas referred to as Nebo and Sekhukhune today, were returned to their rightful owners.
“Our forefathers had to sell their fat cattle, livestock goats and sorghum in an endeavour to buy back the land. But the land bought back was a drop in the ocean compared to what was left in the hands of the Boer,” he said.
“This is not a war. All we are asking for is for government to bring back what is rightfully ours, which was forcefully taken away from us by the then oppressive government,” said Sekhukhune.
To the delight of the crowd, Sekhukhune added: “We are not apologetic about this. I think it is time for our land to be brought back to its people so that poverty can quickly become a thing of the past for us, for you and for generations to come”.
The king further urged his subjects to support the expropriation of land without compensation, saying land was the backbone of the South African economy, adding that without it there would be no life.
Secretary from the office of King Sekhukhune, Samson Phakwago, accused the mines in Sekhukhune of not doing anything for the upliftment of communities surrounding them. He said the area had no water, no clinics, no roads and no recreational facilities in spite of having offered the mines the land to operate on.
“That is why we refuse to fold our arms and remain poverty-stricken while outside people harvest wealth in the land of our ancestors. We support the king for our land to be expropriated without delay,” he said.