Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. File pictures: SUNDAY TIMES/TEBOGO LETSIE
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. File pictures: SUNDAY TIMES/TEBOGO LETSIE

A community on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast is taking on the Ingonyama Trust Board over what it says is the illegal sale of its land.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has organised an imbizo in Ulundi on Wednesday to discuss conflicts between the Land Expropriation Bill and the Ingonyama Trust.

The king has been vocal in defence of the Ingonyama Trust, which is traditional tribal land under his custodianship.

The bill threatens the sovereignty of the tribal land, with senior government officials as well as opposition party officials calling for the land to be ceded to, and managed by, the state.

Members of the Luthuli clan, who once administered leases in the area through the Umnini Trust, have given the Ingonyama Trust and Inkosi Phathisizwe Luthuli an ultimatum to stop selling their land or they will head to court over the matter.

An irate Nhlanhla Luthuli, one of the members of the Umnini Trust, told Business Day on Tuesday that his trust had enlisted the services of the Legal Resources Centre in their fight with the Ingonyama Trust.

Many people were buying land from the chief and Ingonyama Trust Board when they should be buying land from Umnini Trust, he said. The land belonged to the Luthuli clan since the 1800s, he said, and was administered through the community-led Umnini Trust. But after the establishment of the Ingonyama Trust Board in 1994, things changed, allegedly without notice.

"We have evidence from people who have been building their homes here that they were made to pay Ingonyama Trust Board and [the local] Chief Luthuli for leases.

"As far as we are concerned neither does the chief nor Ingonyama Trust have the right to sell the land and we want them to stop selling our land with immediate effect," he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Induna Msawakhe Luthuli, who was fired by the chief after questioning the legality of the land sale.

"I was fired from my position as the headman for fighting for this land. The chief decided to fire me as headman in 2010 because he wanted to surround himself with people who would always salute him even when he is wrong," he said.

"We, as landowners with title deeds, were confused about why people were paying money to the Ingonyama Trust Board and not our trust.

"That’s what confused us because these residents are our residents and they should be paying us as the landowners with a title deed."

On Tuesday, Phathizwe Luthuli called those who are questioning his authority and right to give people land "lunatics". Ingonyama Trust Board chairman Judge Jerome Ngwenya was not available for comment.