Hluphekile Mabuyakhulu is a bed-ridden pensioner who says she was pressured into signing a lease for her ancestral land. Picture: Qiniso Mbili
Hluphekile Mabuyakhulu is a bed-ridden pensioner who says she was pressured into signing a lease for her ancestral land. Picture: Qiniso Mbili

The Ingonyama Trust has been ordered by the Pietermaritzburg high court to pay back the money it took from people living on trust land who it forced to sign leases.

Judge Isaac Madondo, with judges Jerome Mnguni and Peter Olsen concurring, ruled on Friday that the trust had acted unlawfully and contrary to the constitution, when it stopped the “permission to occupy” (PTO) policy, which was grounded in traditional law.

The court has ruled that all leases in this regard are now invalid and that the minister of rural development and land reform, Thoko Didiza, who “breached her duties”, must reinstate the policy and report back to the court every three months on progress.

The case, which was argued by the Legal Resources Centre, was brought by the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution, the Rural Women's Movement and several individuals who were personally affected.

There are an estimated five million people living on trust land in KwaZulu-Natal.

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