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Luthuli family: We'll only be free when we have our ancestral land back

Chief Albert Luthuli's family are fighting to own land where there are now more than 30 farms in Montebello and Njubanjuba, north of Durban. The matter is currently before the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

Lungelo, Stephen and Norman; the grandsons of the late chief Albert Luthuli. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

DURBAN – The family of African National Congress (ANC) struggle icon Chief Albert Luthuli say they will only be completely free if they have their ancestral land back in KwaZulu-Natal.

Land ownership has become an emotive topic in South Africa, particularly in recent years and is set to dominate political campaigns leading up to next month’s election.

But for the Luthuli family, this has been a decades-long battle.

They are fighting to own land where there are now more than 30 farms in Montebello and Njubanjuba, north of Durban. The matter is currently before the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

It’s a busy morning in central Durban.

Scores of people are commuting to work, while others make their way in and out of high rise buildings whose hardness is offset by far stretching green, leafy landscapes nearby.

This is the land the Luthuli family says belongs to them and they want to be compensated.

But for now, their priority is to successfully claim the sugarcane and forest farms in Montebello and Njubanjuba.

The late Chief Albert Luthuli’s grandson Stephen says the family understand the financial impact of this process and are wary of putting anyone’s livelihood at risk.

“We can’t move; if some sort of acknowledgement that the land indeed belongs to us, we should benefit out of.”

His younger brother Lungelo says South Africans may be free to vote but they need more land.

“We can’t keep saying people are free when they can vote but economically they’re not free and land gives you financial freedom.”

The family also claims that over a hundred of their forefathers’ graves are still on the farms in Montebello and Njubanjuba.

They fear that since the land is now privately owned by farmers and has been developed for agricultural purposes, many of those sites may have been destroyed.

WATCH: Albert Luthuli’s grandson: Many are getting their land back, why not us?

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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