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By Editorial staff

Journalist


The high price of failed land claims

We can’t afford to lose such tourism jewels and, at the same time, not help the very communities the change was intended to benefit.


Another former five-star luxurious lodge – a popular destination for many local and foreign visitors for 44 years – is lying in ruins after a botched land claim.

The Cybele Forest Lodge and Health Spa in Mpumalanga, nestled in the enchanting forests of White River, is an embarrassing shadow of its former self after years of neglect, theft and poor management.

There’s no electricity on the 12-hectare property – host to 2 500 visitors a year in its prime – because the transformer and cables have been stolen. The pools are green, the thatch roofs have either been stolen or replaced with corrugated iron sheets and all the geysers, air conditioners, windows and tap fittings are broken or long gone.

ALSO READ: Good news for landowners defending land claims

The land is now being used to grow maize, with the stables being used as a storage facility.

Ten years ago, the lodge was part of 120 hectares of land purchased from the previous owners for R17 million by government for the Manzamhlophe community.

In 2013, when the lodge was forced to close, the owners in a statement warned: “With no hotel management help anywhere in sight, or funding for the community, the reality is that the community will simply inherit a completely empty lodge that will become [irrevocably] derelict in a very short space of time.”

How can this be allowed to happen? Government is not only failing our tourism industry, adding to higher levels of unemployment with more job losses, but also not aiding the very community it was meant to uplift.

This month, Moneyweb reported in The Citizen how Sol Kerzner’s former Fish River resort was stripped and looted by disgruntled community members.

READ MORE: Sol Kerzner’s Fish River Resort looted and abandoned after gang invasions

The resort in the Eastern Cape had been purchased last year to be used as SA’s premier film location. But the resort is now in tatters.

We can’t afford to lose such tourism jewels and, at the same time, not help the very communities the change was intended to benefit.