Luthuli clan forges ahead with legal fight to reclaim land

Stephen Luthuli explains that the clan has a deeply emotional connection to the land which is now in the hands of private owners.

A picture of members of the Luthuli clan. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

DURBAN – With election day fast approaching and land continuing to be a hot topic across the political spectrum, the Luthuli clan under the auspices of Ubambano LwaMathuli NGO - which includes a family member of the late Chief Albert Luthuli is forging ahead with its fight to have access to their own land, decades later.

Luthuli was the president general of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1952 until his death in 1967.

The Luthuli clan's land claim is currently before the High Court in Pietermaritzburg where they are trying to reclaim two areas, one in Montebello, north-west of Durban, which consists of 32 privately owned farms, as well as Njubanjuba, which is also located north of the city.

A map of the area in KwaZulu-Natal where the Luthuli clan is trying to reclaim.

Acres of green hills, lush forests and sugarcane fields as far as the eye can see, this is the vast land which the Luthuli clan hopes they can reclaim.

The Ubumbano LwaMathuli NGO set up by the Luthuli clan has taken on a mammoth challenge to claim back the land they say was stolen from them in the 1700s.

As Stephen Luthuli explains, the clan has a deeply emotional connection to the land which is now in the hands of private owners.

“Our forefathers grew up there and their graves are still visible there. We lost connection with our ancestors. We need to go to the graveyard and pay our last respects.”

It was in 1998 that the Luthuli clan first tried through legal channels to claim the land but their efforts came to nothing.

Stephen says even the government at the time did not take them seriously.

“When this claim was launched, I won't say which government, was against the land claim. The person who as leading the claim was taken as joke.”

For the Luthuli clan, their legal challenge has nothing to do with the elections as it has been years in the making.

They see this as a step to ownership of the land they say is rightly theirs.