Intervention brings hope that Sunnyside farm dispute can be settled

Thembelihle Gxothiwe recently bought Sunnyside farm and according to the family, he wants them off the property. They also say he threatened to bulldoze their home.
Thembelihle Gxothiwe recently bought Sunnyside farm and according to the family, he wants them off the property. They also say he threatened to bulldoze their home.
Image: nito500/ 123rf

The national department of agriculture, land reform & rural development is intervening in a farm dispute between ANC Amathole leader Thembelihle Gxothiwe and a Kei Road family who have lived on the farm for decades.

Gxothiwe, the husband of transport, safety & liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, bought the Sunnyside farm earlier this year with the intention of farming, but has been involved in a public dispute with the Moyeni family ever since.

He has been trying to evict the 12 family members from a two-bedroom house on the farm, but they refuse to leave.

However, on Monday afternoon deputy agriculture minister Mcebisi Skwatsha met the Gxothiwe and Moyeni families in an attempt to find “an amicable solution” to the impasse.

Skwatsha is on a two-day oversight visit to the Eastern Cape. On Tuesday he will be in Mthatha.

In an interview, Skwatsha said: “We are here to make sure that land reform prospers, and the visit to the Eastern Cape is to strengthen relations in farms that face challenges. This is a farm that has attracted much attention over the dispute the families are having with the MEC's husband and I came to engage with both families.”

Skwatsha said there were positive signs that his intervention would work.

Gxothiwe, who was at first reluctant to talk to the media, said he was willing to engage with the department and Moyeni family.

“The deputy minister and his officials came here and we agreed to allow the department, in particular the deputy minister's office, to intervene in this problem and to stop the legal processes which we had already started and to allow the department to play a role in this.

This was our first meeting and I was able to sit down with them and tell them my frustration with the farm

“This was our first meeting and I was able to sit down with them and tell them my frustration with the farm. They understand as much as I think they understood the Moyeni family as well. I believe we can reach an amicable solution because of this intervention.”

Moyeni family spokesperson Neziswa Moyeni, who has lived most of her life on the farm said: “If we are kicked out of this house we will have no place to stay, so at least after today’s meetings there is hope for us.”

She said the family owned 82 cattle, 54 sheep and 48 goats.

“We love farming and we hope to continue having grazing land. We also want to resolve this with Mr Gxothiwe because we live in fear of not knowing when we will be out of a home.” — DispatchLIVE



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