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The Makuleke Community Land Claims. A short history.

A short history

The Makuleke people are a Tsonga speaking tribe who lived in the northern section of the Singwidzi Game Reserve which was once in the Pafuri area of what is now the Kruger National Park. In 1912, a number of these villages were relocated to make way for the park. As time went on, the tribe moved back into the area as there were no rangers to stop them.

The National Parks created a proposal, in 1930, to include the area between Levuvhu and Limpopo in the Kruger National Park and so by 1933, Pafuri Game Reserve was declared and given to the National Parks Board to run.

This meant that once again, the tribe had to be relocated and the proposal for the land to be given to the tribe was considered unsuitable. Even the board secretary was unhappy with the proposed land, as he felt that the land being proposed was not agriculturally viable and so it would be wholly unfair for the tribe which was sustained by farming.

The Parks Board decided to return the Pafuri Game Reserve to the provincial authorities in 1952, stating that the park was unworkable simply because areas were still inhabited by the Makuleke tribe. Sadly, the tribe would eventually, in 1969, be removed to the Natlavi area, and under the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1997, the tribe would demand the right to their land be given back. 18 months of intense negotiations would follow until a settlement was eventually reached. The South African National Parks Board and the claimants stated that it was a “world class agreement” as well as a breakthrough for South African conservation.

A breakdown of the agreement

  • The land in the Pafuri area was given back to the community.
  • No farming, residence or mining may take place without the express permission of South African National Parks.
  • A joint management body will be created and responsible for the management of the area.
  • All tourism along with any other income generating activities will be subject to the management plan and will also be monitored by SANParks.
  • SANParks will take care of and manage all of the day to day conservation of the area and the community members will be responsible for tourism activities.
  • The members of the community will be trained in both tourism and conservation matters.
  • The initial management of the area will be undertaken by SANParks at its own expense. When income in derived from the area, the costs will be shared between SANParks and the community.
  • The area within the Kruger National Park on which the tribe will live, will be known as the Makuleke region.
  • An additional 5000 hectares outside of the Kruger National Park will also be returned to the community in terms of the agreement. This area of land will be included in the Kruger allowing the park to expand as a result of this agreement.
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