KZN villagers battle  Ingonyama Trust

A KwaZulu-Natal activist from a community embroiled in a bitter land dispute with the Ingonyama Trust was shocked to receive a threatening letter and a bullet concealed in an envelope.

Nkosingiphile Dludla said the letter was thrown into his yard by unknown people and reads in isiZulu: “Uwena ubhongoza. Akekho umuntukazana onomhlaba. Umhlaba owamakhosi. Yenzani okulungile kusekuhle.”

In English it means: “You are the ring leader. No commoner has land. It belongs to the king. Please do the right thing before it’s too late.”

Five rural communities under different traditional leaders in Mthonjaneni in northern KwaZulu-Natal have been engaged in a battle with the Ingonyama Trust over land restored to them through the government’s land restitution programme.

The matter dates back to 2018 when the late amaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuZulu through the Ingonyama Trust, approached the Land Claims Court to demand the land ,which was won through a land restitution programme,  to be transferred to the entity.

The Zulu king is the sole trustee of  the Ingonyama Trust, which is now headed by current King MisuZulu KaZwelithini.

The entity, which reports to the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform controls over 30% of land which was previously under the KwaZulu homeland administration.

The Ingonyama Trust lost all its court cases against the restituted communities with the last appeal brought forward by the trust heard at the Land Claims Court sitting in Durban again falling flat.

The settlement of the restitution claim dates back to 1995 when local induna (headman) Hamilton Dludla of Isizwe sakwaDludla in Melmoth, lodged a successful land claim to the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights.

Dludla supported by other four communities contended that white farmers had forced their ancestors off their land during the passing of the controversial Native Land Act of 1913.

The land, which was successfully claimed by the communities of the eNtembeni royal household, eMthonjaneni, eNtembeni and eMakhasaneni includes prime agricultural land under cane and several citrus fruits and avocado farms.

The communities subsequently struck a joint venture with outgoing farmers and set up a communal land trust to administer and manage the proceeds of the farms.

However, the Ingonyama Trust has been battling to wrestle control of the land from the claimant communities and the trust  asked the courts to release the farms to the entity.

But this was dismissed by the courts because it would amount to secondary dispossession.

“The intimidation has not stopped. We have had no peace since we won the case against Ingonyama Trust. Some community members who were at the forefront of taking on Ingonyama have fled the area. They never came back for fear of being killed,” said Nkosingiphile Dludla, a member of the communal land trust.

He said recently he received a letter purported to be from Ingonyama Trust instructing the board of trustees to desist from calling themselves owners of the land. “The letter was inside an envelope together with a bullet,” he said.

Dludla said he chose not to report the matter to local police because he says they cannot be trusted.

Ncengani Mbatha one of the beneficiaries of the land claim painted a grim picture, saying the community was not only fighting off Ingonyama Trust.

“We have not seen the fruits of our hard work. The previous owners are also refusing to leave,” lamented Mbatha.

He said the initial agreement was that the previous owners would stay and train villagers on how to manage the farms.

Another beneficiary who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation explained that the Ingonyama Trust, the previous land owners and the South African Farmers Development Association (Safda) are jostling over their land.

“The community resolved that whoever wanted to assist us to manage the farms to come in as consultants. Now they are in charge and we get a pittance,” said the beneficiary.

Safda, a KwaZulu-Natal-based organisation representing emerging farmers is embroiled in a bitter battle with the previous white owners, claiming they are ripping the community off.

“Like a serpent sneaking under the door, the 70%/30% agreement was being drafted and sneaked alongside the conclusion of the land claim process.

“The outgoing farmers were to walk and profit from the land, which they had sold and pocketed billions of rands from it,” Safda charged.

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  1. The land belongs to the king, as the custodian of it on behalf of his people. The courts are interfering in the affairs of the kings and chiefs. This land has come back to the original owner. As from the beginning of this matter, only the king had the power over land. Kings were the only person who were allocating the land to his people. That is our history.

  2. There’s no way that this ancient feudal system can continue in modern civilization.

    When the people govern in a democracy, such as RSA, the king must go!

    The French Revolution (1789-1799) abolished feudalism and established the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

    The entire modern civilization followed the French by abolishing the oppressive feudal system.

    The RSA democratically elected government must abolish the ‘royal’
    titles and sub divide the 2,8 million hectares of the Ngonyama trust among current residents but with a title deed for every owner.

    • The King is NOT the owner of the land, he is the custodian. The Ingonyama Trust think they are feudal lords and people are the slaves who must beg them. Custodian is just a ceremonial title, the people are to benefit and control their land. It is not for the King to do as he wishes and profits from it. That is how it was done traditionally. The Dudla community must fight these Feudal and corrupt lords who seek to be owners of the land in the name of the very same people that they want to murder for standing up for what is right. What gives Kings the legitimacy and right to think that they were born to own land? I will answer, Kings get their legitimacy to rule and be custodians from the communities such as the Dudla,it’s not a God given right.

  3. The king is a leech and unfortunately, our brethren love to be slaves to some human beings.
    We need freedom from these so called kings

  4. Why hasbt the Kiing taken South Africa and Becone a Monarch Government like Britain
    because he iant incapable of doing so

  5. Chiefs for different clans must reclaim the independence they enjoyed before Shaka maliciously attacked & defeated their forefathers. They must not be bullied and undermined by one clan or allow themselves to be ruled by one. They must learn from amaHlubi clan

  6. Inkosi or king control the on behalf of the community for distribution purposes among his or her subjects. Now the conflict of interest is Inkosi or king control the land for their personal gains. They don’t assist community with anything for example bursary, building of schools. People must stop interpreting African traditions to suit their hidden agenda.

    • The King and his people are greedy. The only reason Ingonyama exists is because of the very same people they want to dispossess. They are greedy and what they are doing is very bad, for people who claim to be rules. They already are getting a lot of money from the government because they are Royalty, they want to take more from the people. Bayanyanyisa labantu.

  7. The whole system of PTOs on so-called tribal land is utter nonsense and a mockery of human rights and constitutiinal protection of individual rights to property.We cannot in this day and age deny the people unfettered right to land ownership in favour of pampered and overfed parasites feeding off the land and who pay no taxes and have multiple palaces maintained by the poor.


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