A reflection on the lived experiences of womxn in rural KwaZulu-Natal living under Ingonyama Trust

The idea that womxn in rural spaces are the least resistant is a definite misperception when you look at some of the changes that have been negotiated since 1994 during which time some of the most significant changes have been precipitated by womxn.

At one level you have judgments at the Constitutional Court about customary marriages, succession and inheritance that have been won by womxn. At a more fundamental level, you have womxn claiming land rights for themselves and actually attaining those land rights because the legitimacy of their claims is recognised. That has been achieved through a process of claiming spaces based both on custom, in saying I am a child of this land and I need land too, and based on the belief in equality i.e. I am equal to my brother. Drawing on the lived experience of a womxn residing in the rural north of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, this perspective will document the life of one womxn who is facing potential land dispossession at the local level by some members of umkhandlo (traditional council) and at provincial level by the Ingonyama Trust. Since 2007, and possibly earlier, the Ingonyama Trust and the Ingonyama Trust Board have been undermining the security of tenure of residents and occupiers of Trust-held land in KwaZulu-Natal and extorting money from them by unlawfully compelling them to conclude lease agreements and pay rental to the Trust to continue living on the land. In compelling and inducing residents to conclude lease agreements, the Trust and the Board have violated the customary law and statutory “Permission To Occupy” (“PTO”) rights of residents and occupiers living on Trust-held land, which are protected by the Constitution and by an Act of Parliament. They have assumed and exercised land administration powers that they do not have, but which are vested in the Minister of Rural Development and Land Affairs and the relevant Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, KwaZulu-Natal.

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