Tribe disputes Eerstegeluk farm, Steelpoort Limpopo prospecting rights
December 14 2010 By Wiseman Khuzwayo
The "Roka Phasha Pokwane" Tribal Authority in Steelpoort, Limpopo, is taking on the Constitutional Court after it issued a landmark judgment setting aside prospecting rights granted to Genorah Resources because the company did not consult with the local community.
The tribal authority, led by Kgosi Mashila, said in a statement yesterday: “We believe the Constitutional Court was misled over the surface rights on the farm Eerstegeluk, as a result of which the court made erroneous statements of fact.
“This grave error by the court has significant potential to stir social conflict and instability in the Steelpoort Valley.”
The tribal authority said its lawyers would be approaching Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo to seek a correction of the relevant factual statements made by the court.
The court found that Genorah had not consulted with the Bengwenyama-Ya-Maswati community as required by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and that officials from the Department of Mineral Resources had not given the land owners a hearing and had not complied with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act either.
The tribal authority said it wished to assert that the Roka Phasha and the Eerstegeluk community were the rightful owners of the Eerstegeluk farm, excluding a small township owned by the Greater Tubatse municipality, and that the surface rights resided solely under the community’s ownership.
It said the court was led to believe that a land claim in respect of the farm had been granted to the Bengwenyama.
“The fact is that the land claim by the Bengwenyama-Ya-Maswati community in respect of Eerstegeluk has not even been adjudicated, let alone granted,” the statement said.
“Throughout our history, the Roka Phasha community has interacted with numerous companies on a variety of issues.We have established a relationship with Genorah Resources over the past four years and they have shown an unwavering support for our community and displayed an interest in improving the quality of life for our community,” it said.
Bengwenyama Community Trust vice-chairman Joel Nkosi said: “Phasha signed the deal with Genorah fraudulently on our property. Yesterday we had a meeting with the community, who supported our application for prospecting rights.”