How four East London men went from land grabbers to property developers

The land debate is perhaps the biggest political conundrum that is currently facing South Africa.

Wherever you go, there are so many opinions being expressed on the issue.

READ: Land grabs: 'Parties are using the vulnerable to push own agendas'

Some land occupiers in the Eastern Cape went from occupying the land to becoming land developers, after they found common ground with the landowner.

Philasande Dotyeni is one of the four men who secured an agreement to buy property in East London.

He tells Azania Mosaka that he never knew his three business partners (Buntu Nonkalela, Themba Boqwana and Thando Wontoti) before the land occupation process.

We did not know each other before. There's a policeman, a principle, a plumber and I'm a businessman. We were renting and we saw an opportunity when we saw people grab land.

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

We were neighbours in the land-grabbing process.

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

All of us obviously were involved in a professional activity and what we had in common was the fact that we were renting.

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

When we saw people actually going to grab land, we said here is our opportunity, let us go there and also get ourselves a piece of this land.

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

We had demarcated, some of us had started fencing the place, and it is a very rough process. When you grab land you just arrive and say this is me.

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

Dotyeni says they were inspired to find a better way because of the hostile nature of the process.

He explains that the engagement with the landowners started while they were demarcating sites for themselves.

The City had instructed their attorneys to go to court and have interdicts and have us removed.

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

And one of the landowners had actually come on site to actually facilitate this process because we were invading his land and it is at that point when the police were there, there was some commotion, people being chased away.

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

We felt that look that let us engage the owner If we can begin to have a decent conversation with the owner because he saw what we wanted to do.

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

We approached him and fortunately for us, he was prepared to listen. Engage with him in a boardroom situation and say this is what we would like to achieve with this land. Can we talk about this issue?

Philasande Dotyeni, land developer

Listen below to how these landgrabbers became land developers...


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