Last November, Temo News reported about the exposure visit of Black farmers to Lumarie Game Farm in Bela-Bela during which the Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) indicated its willingness to help emerging Black game farmers.Temo News is giving a spotlight on Bonwaphala Game Farm, one of the few black owned game farms.
This 4 000 hectare Bela-Bela situated farm belongs to 254 beneficiaries that acquired the land in 2007 through the government’s land reform programme. The beneficiaries who are community are scattered across Limpopo, North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces. Animal species such as giraffe, kudu, impala, blue wildebeest, black wildebeest, blesbok, eland, waterbuck, gemsbok, nyala, zebra, springbok, warthog, ostrichand others are kept on the farm.
The community owned farm is under Communal Property Association (CPA). The CPA has leased the land to Mahlohonolo Investments, a private business formed by the CPA and a strategic partner, Dr Dirk Snyman. Mahlohonolo Investments runs the business and pays rental for using the land. Since the business is at an early stage and the fruits are yet to be reaped, the benefiting households receive groceries monthly.
“Our future plan is to establish Bela-Bela Investment Trust whereby each household will hold a unit trust. Whenever there are dividends in the company, they will be distributed equally to the households. When the business flourishes, households will collect cash instead of food parcels,” says Bela-Bela CPA chairperson, Mr Lefa Mabuela.
Mabuela says the strategic partner has begun imparting skills to his black partners. In the long run says Mabuela, community members having passion for game farming will be identified. Thereafter, they will be trained in management, maintenance, hunting and other skills. Temo News wanted to know the secret behind the stability existing at this enterprise. This curiosity arose due to infighting that characterises some of community projects similarly acquired through the land reform programme. In response, Mabuela states that they have a management structure which deals with farm management and the CPA executive that deals with community issues on the other hand.
At Bonwaphala Game Farm, a visitor is welcomed by refurbishment of accommodation facilities, smiles of workers and wild animals walking, grazing, drinking water or enjoying the shades that nature provided them.
WRSApresident, Mr Jacques Malan, expresses his happiness about Bonwaphala Game Farm venture. “They [beneficiaries] are not just owning land and staying on it. They keep it as income earning business,” he indicates.
Mabuela has this advice for land reform beneficiaries like him: “The mentality of our people must change. Claiming the land is one thing and maintaining it is another story. An ordinary community member believes that owning a farm means printing money, whereas practically, acquiring land has financial consequences; Eskom, maintenance, security, labour cost etc.”