The Dinokeng Game Reserve, north of Pretoria, South Africa is part of a strike by land snatchers who want their land back. The Dinokeng Game Reserve opened up in September 2011 after a decade of planning. The Premier of Gauteng Tokyo Sexwale announced plans to develop a Big-Five game reserve during 1996. The aim of the development was to promote tourism, employment and economic development to poorer communities in the province. The whole project was funded by the African National Congress (ANC) government.
The reserve measures a total of 18,500 hectares and is owned by various private tourism companies and the state. The landowners agreed to drop their fences, adopt a collective agreement and allow the land area to create a habitat for larger animals. The whole area is surrounded by a three meter high electric fence.
Reserve Manage Piet Venter said he received a letter recently from the community demanding the electric fence be removed as 19 hectares of the land belonged to them. In the letter, the community said they want the land back to build a school and a clinic. Venter told the community the electric fence was necessary to protect the animals inside the reserve.
On Friday, two days after the general elections, hundreds of people began to destroy the game reserve fence and set the open grassland area alight. While the Dinokeng workers tried to control and stop the fire from spreading, they were stoned by the perpetrators.
Venter managed to secure an urgent court injunction against the land grabbers on Saturday. On Sunday, with the police patrolling the area, the entire situation remained under control.
The local ANC government requested a meeting with police and reserve management in an attempt to resolve this issue. While the protection of property right is directly related to the prosperity of South Africa, the land grab situation needs to be quelled urgently.
The popularity of the Dinokeng Game Reserve since its launch in 2011 has gained momentum, attracting local and international visitors alike. Dinokeng is a self-drive game reserve boasting a tremendous amount of free roaming animals, bordering an urbanized area.
The Dinokeng Game Reserve land grab is not the first of its kind, recently in the south of Johannesburg; syndicates were involved in this illegal issue. Stealing of government built houses and selling them to desperate people
The role players in the land reform industry have a difficult task ahead of this current land grab and issues need to be tackled in a constructive and serious nature. It is imprudent to transfer land without compensation or by stealing. The reality of these injustices will be a detriment to the social and economic structures of South Africa.
The Dinokeng Game Reserve in South Africa is an initiative of the ANC Gauteng Provincial Government and the current land snatchers strike is a call for urgent land reform implementations. The future growth and stability of the country will depend on implementation of practical and sensible reforms within the parameters of the constitution.
By Laura Oneale