Ingonyama Trust to pay back millions to residents as ordered by court

The court ruled that leases signed by the trust and residents living on the land were unconstitutional.

FILE: Mangosuthu Buthelezi (R). Picture: GCIS

DURBAN - A landmark ruling in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday afternoon will see millions paid back to residents living on the land controlled by the Ingonyama Trust.

The court ruled that leases signed by the trust and residents living on the land were unconstitutional.

Now the trust will have to pay back the money it has been collecting from those residents since 2012.

Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza has been tasked with overseeing the process and reporting back to the court every three months.

The Ingonyama Trust was established in 1994 at the insistence of then Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi who had demanded special recognition for the amaZulu Royal household.

The trust controls about 2.8 million hectares of land in KwaZulu-Natal.

It was taken to court in 2018 by a group of mostly women who claimed they were tricked into signing lease agreements on their ancestral land.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution was among the applicants in support of the women on the matter.

The council’s executive secretary Lawson Naidoo said:

“It affirms that the residents of land in KZN are the true and beneficial owners of that land in terms of customary law and that their rights cannot be diluted by the Ingonyama Trust, the State or anybody else.”

Naidoo said they would be monitoring the implementation of the court’s decision.

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