A 13-year court battle gave 20 farmers (willing sellers) a fair price for their land offered to the state. The claims were initially set at about 42 000 ha. Landowners offered some 9,000 ha of highly productive agricultural land to the state to settle the claim.
The government had to admit that the Valuer-General wanted to buy the farms from the farmers for almost half their value. The landowners of Melmoth in Natal entered into an agreement with the Department of Land Reform whereby they would voluntarily make land available to the government. The deal would mean R761m for the farmers.
The government has repeatedly decided that the Valuer-General’s assistance should be called and according to a “government formula” they calculated that the farmers were entitled to only R420 million.
Last week, the government abandoned the fight to use the formula. According to Attorney Bertus van der Merwe, who represented the farmers for the past two years, the turn