The public meeting of the beneficiaries of the 13 farms in the Georges Valley area east of Haenertsburg in Tzaneen, called Serala Farms, nearly did not end well after the attendants and the members of the Serala Community Property Association (CPA) did not agree on matters pertaining to finances and the shares the community was supposed receive to annually once the farms are operational.

The meeting attended by about 800 beneficiaries from many parts of the province was held at Hwiti High at Makweng township in Polokwane on Sunday, and people were transported from Tzaneen, Sekororo, Lenyenye, Molepo, Lephepane, Moletji, Phalaborwa and some parts of Polokwane where the majority of the beneficiaries resided. The biggest differences came when one group wanted the farms to be managed and another wanted the farms to be sold.

The Serala farms are located in Georges Valley and some grow avocadoes while others are timber plantations. The farms belong to the Ramogale, Kgopa, and the Maponya clans after successful claims in early 2000.

Among the issues on the agenda were the report of the delegation sent to the High Court in Pretoria to seek clarity on the state of finances in the farms, the beneficiaries and the financial reports which turned out to be the source of disagreement among the attendants. They sought clarity on the total revenue the farms might make and how it should be shared among the beneficiaries.

According to a source who attended the meeting, beneficiaries did not accept the financial reports presented by the CPA, claiming the finances were undercounted and resolved that another delegation be sent to the High Court to obtain the financial standing of the farms. He said the youths accused the elders who comprise the CPA committee, of concealing some of the finances.

“The matter came to a head when we wanted to know how much was used to transport the beneficiaries with some traveling from hundreds of kilometres away and money used to buy food for them. Others complained that they had to buy avocadoes while their ancestors left them the farms. They called for the selling of the farms and their amenities and that the money be shared among the beneficiaries,” said the source.

“Salt was rubbed into the wounds of the beneficiaries when the suggestion to sell the farms and have money shared among them was met with fierce opposition as one group was concerned that selling the farms would leave their children with uncertain futures. The answer to this concern was that in the mountains there are timber plantations which most did not have plans with and that it was difficult to farm in the mountains,” he added.

He said that each farm carried an estimated R30 million value and the delegation would have to establish how much each beneficiary would receive after the farms were sold together with the properties. After the delegation had returned from Pretoria to consult the Master of the High Court, the community will hold another meeting in August to chart the way forward.