Origin of Marloth Park and Ownership Lionspruit

The origin and birth of a beautiful place called Marloth Park

Marloth is made up of a collection of farms that have grown together over time.

In 1952 the Maritz brother Piet  and his brother Hendrik obtained the farms Verdwaal and Grootdraai, for cattle farming but corridor and foot and mouth diseases made it very difficult to make it a viable proposition. They changed to vegetable farming, by 1965 the were farming sugar cane , as well as citrus and tropical fruit. 

Piet Nortjé, the owner of the farm Ouniek, made stands available for people travelling to Mozambique to stop over and rest. This is also the farm that later linked Marlothpark to the N4 from Nelspruit, to Komatipoort. It was this stop over that created the idea that would eventual become Marloth Park.

Tucker’s Land and Development Corporation purchased six farms during the late 1960's until 1970.  The farms  were Seekoegat, M’Kayabult, Ouniek, Bergrust, Buffelsdraai and Maroela.

The founding of Marloth Park

When the Park was set up by the Tuckers Development Trust in the early 1970’s it was envisaged to be a Private Holiday Town and Nature Reserve. Initially, the Tuckers applied for more than 5,500 ha of land to include in the Crocodile River Holiday Township and Nature Reserve”, as it was called at the time.

The Administrator of the Transvaal Province only gave permission for approximately 1,627 ha to be proclaimed a Holiday Township. This was eventually concluded in December 1977.

However, despite selling off the extra land that could not be included in the Town, including the farm Maroela that did not form part of the final Park.  the Tuckers kept Lionspruit Ranches as a private farm.

Marloth Park Conservation Trust

Notwithstanding that Lionspruit was not an integral part of the Town at that time when they actively started marketing the Town, The Tuckers advertised it as forming part of the Towns greater land area.

In the end only 55% of the area was to be divided into 4000 stands. The early stages of Marloth Park was a rough ride with the first two developers going insolvent. On liquidation of Tucker Company in 1988, Bester Homes got involved in the marketing of Marloth Park. They bought property in Midrand, and  found that some land on the Crocodile was included in the deal! One of the deals they offered at one time was giving a free plot in Marloth Park if you bought a plot & house in one of their development is the Transvaal. Later, Bester Homes went insolvent and ABSA bank got involved to finalise the development.

 

Lionspruit as part of Marloth Park

As part of the conditions of establishment (during the Tucker error), the Developer agreed to pay the owners of Marloth Park a compensation of R250,000 if they ever sold Lionspruit and the Marloth Park owners did not take up the option to purchase the farm.

This occurrence indeed happened. The opportunity to purchase Lionspruit presented itself in 1989 but because Marloth Park was relatively “undeveloped” at the time, with less than 100 houses, it looked impossible. The then owners of Marloth at the time forfeited the option to purchase the farm. The Tuckers complied with their undertaking and paid the R250,000 to Marloth Park and sold the farm to a private person.

The owners of Marloth at the time quickly realised the mistake made. As a result, everyone involved in Marloth Park at the time, decided if ever the farm came back on the market the owners of Marloth Park would try and buy it back.

 

Administration of Marloth Park

From the onset, the township of Marloth Park was managed directly by the Board for the Development of Peri-Urban Areas (later renamed the Local Management Affairs Council).

In 1984 the town's own local area committee within the same Peri-Urban structure was formed and had trustees who represented the Owners of Marloth Park. During the time they administrated Marloth Park a lot was achieved; our water supply project was completed in 1987 and the Civic Centre was inaugurated on 18 April 1992. We bought Lionspruit and the post of Game Ranger was created in 1992. At that time, we were the only town in South Africa with a full-time Game Ranger.

As a result of the political change that came in South Africa in 1994 the Government, in line with the Constitution, embarked on a process to amalgamate and consolidate the many small Municipalities in South Africa into the so-called “Wall-to-Wall” Municipalities. This process started with the registration of the Marloth Park Transitional Local Council (MPTLC) in 1995  and they took over the administration from the Local Management Affairs Council. The full process was eventually concluded properly in 2001 when the MPTLC became part of the Nkomazi Local Municipality (NKLM).

Marloth Park Conservation Trust
Marloth Park Conservation

The Purchase of Lionspruit

In 1992 when Lionspruit came on the market again the owners of Marloth Park approached the Local Area Committee to try and purchase the Farm.

After 2 meetings between the Local Area Committee and Perry Urban Council, they succeeded, and a plan was struck. A loan for Lionspruit loan was secured with help of the Peri-Urban Board through "Die LandBank" (later to become the Development Bank of South Africa)  to pay for Lionspruit and Lionspruit was purchased for the amount of R2,700,000 of which R500,000 was for the game that was on the Lionspruit farm at the time.

To repay the loan the Property Tax Tariff was increased from 3.0c/R to 4.2C/R. The average erf valuation at the time was about R10,000- so it meant an increase of about R10- per month per property owner on their Property Tax.

This loan was eventually paid in full in 2012 by the owners of Marloth Park.

Registration and Ownership

The Owners of Marloth Park are in effect a partnership when considering their shared assets they own. In South Africa, a partnership is not regarded as a legal entity in the same way trusts, companies and corporations are. A partnership is not considered a 'legal or juristic person' and in South Africa - a property deed must be registered against the name of a legal or juristic person.

As Marloth Park’s owners are a community of people and in effect a large partnership, any property they owned together or buy together needs to be put in the name of a governing body (or body corporate) so at the time we used our Local Management Affairs council as this was the simplest and convenient entity at the time.

Lionspruit was purchased it was registered in the name of our governing body “the Local Management Affairs council” and treated it the same way as our other commonly owned assets. The original Deed documents were submitted in Afrikaans, so the farm Lionspruit was effectively registered in trust to “Die Raad op Plaaslike Bestuursaangeleenthede” .

 When NKLM absorbed our local Municipality they also took over and absorbed our Body Corporate and with it our assets held in trust for the owners of Marloth Park. (This happened because law dictated all assets, bonds, contracts etc. held by the Marloth Park Local Transitional Council were to be transferred to the Nkomazi Municipality). On the 16th of May 2001 Lionspruit was transferred from MPTLC to NKLM. Many other assets belonging to the owners of Marloth Park were also absorbed by NKLM in a similar manner as a result.

Other Agreements

Interesting to note is that in October 2000 MPTLC signed contacts with Marloth Park Pro Naturae Limited (MPPNL) (A Section 17D company that was formed at the time- the total shares belonging to the property owners) to outsource essential services such as Security, Nature Conservation and Eco-Tourism. The contracts were never honoured by NKLM and in 2004 NKLM was served a Noticed of intended legal action for being in breach of contract.

 

Summary of events

The shorter version of the above is simply that Lionspruit was purchased and payed for by the owners in Marloth Park. As a result of bad decision-making at the time the farm Lionspruit was registered in the name of MPTLC as opposed to a Trust or a Private Company.

When all the assets of MPTLC were transferred and signed over to the NKLM (note – they were never sold), as required by law, Lionspruit was then registered in the name of NKLM.

It’s interesting to note that nowhere, or never, was any resolution signed authorising NKLM to manage Lionspruit on behalf of the owners. Even more interesting is that in South Africa we use a “negative registration system”, which means that the person on whose name a property is registered is not necessarily the legal owner.

 

Actions by other groups

Professor Brian Reilly was already commissioned by the Marloth Park Ratepayers Association (MPRA) to do a Baseline Ecological Study of Lionspruit and Marloth Park with the aim of developing a credible and scientifically acceptable management plan. A copy  of this document is in the library of documents on this site.

For many legal reasons, it is our opinion that it is crucial that Marloth Park and Lionspruit get official conservation status and again the Trust is firmly committed to getting that done.

 

Looking to the Future

We firmly believe that through negotiation together with NKLM we can resolve the issue of ownership of Lionspruit, and then transfer Lionspruit to the Trust where both parties can benefit. It is interesting to note that NKLM has on a number of occasions acknowledged the ownership of Lionspruit belongs to the Owners of Marloth Park.

The Trust & Public Benefit Company are focused on initiatives to make MP a special conservation area or Protected Zone. The Founding Trustees of the Trust are firmly committed to establishing and implementing a sound management plan for Marloth Park and Lionspruit with the view to getting the area as a minimum proclaimed a special protected area and, in the long run, perhaps inclusion into the Kruger Park.