By Anita Dangazele
While the nation’s still reeling with shock, so are Prudhoe Community leaders following the senseless looting of the Fish River Resort near Port Alfred.
Community leader, Gladman Tom from the Prudhoe Community Trust says residents are devastated by has happened because they had hope that this was their way out of poverty.
“We’re devastated, people are complaining, people are crying. They had hope that this property will bring a better life to them, but now it has been ruined, dilapidated,” he said.
However, Tom admits that the culprits may be walking among them in the community.
“I spoke to the station commander and told him we must do door to door search because some of the stuff are in our community, that’s the only way we will who the burglars are.
The Prudhoe police station allegedly has three policemen per shift, and one police vehicle was available on the day of the looting spree.
Tom said they were more disappointed at the government than the community itself, they given a massive property and no support to ensure a huge transition.
“On the 31 of January, we met with the minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza herself, she told they would hand over the property at the end March 2022 because the government had no money to continue paying the company they had hired to look after the property,
“Indeed we given all the papers to the property and nothing else, no support. We’ve been begging the government to provide security for too long. They keep telling us they don’t have money, if we want security we should sell them some of our farms,”
The department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development had allegedly hired the Mantis company to look after the property while there was still a court battle over the ownership of the land. The department allegedly paid the company R2,3 million a month.
MahalaX, the company that had signed a 49-year lease agreement with the Prudhoe Community Trust said in a media statement that days after taking over operations, a group of people claiming to be the rightful owners of the property visited them, even though according to their knowledge the rightful owners of the land were the Prudhoe Community Development Trust.
“The visits from the group intensified over the succeeding months, with protesters blocking the resort entrance and intimidating staff while demanding jobs and perks, and challenging the trust.”
According to MahalaX, the group ultimately took control of the premises in August 2022 and demanded the evacuation of staff and 48 members of a British film crew that were shooting a reality show.
The company incurred significant financial losses and could not meet its obligations to the Trust.
“MahalaX was not in a position to refinance or re-establish operations until such time as the court interdict was made permanent [in November 2023] and it was clear that the social cohesion issues affecting the Prudhoe Community were resolved.”
Pictured: Fish River Resort
Image source: Supplied