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Casino in Center of Real Estate RobberyPublished August 11, 2008
Sun International, the South African casino giant, signed a 100 year lease for $350 a month with the government in the mid 1980s. Now the landowners are screaming "foul!"
Reports say that $265,000 was paid by Sun International casino magnate, Sol Kerzner, to former Transkei homeland prime minister, George Matanzima, for exclusive gambling rights in the then Transkei homeland.
This resulted in 103 families of the Umgungundlovu community being removed to make way for development of the luxurious Wild Coast Sun near Port Edward.
Sun International has raked in huge profits from their modest investment but all around the Wild Coast Sun casino, people live in abject poverty with very few prospects of improving their livelihoods. "Very little or nothing has been done to improve their lot and neither have they gained by turning over their land," said their representative in a public hearing into whether or not the casino license should be renewed. The current license expires in August next year.
The attorney for King Sigcau, said his client did not "in general object to the renewal of the license," but wanted the Gambling Board to apply strict conditions to ensure profits were used to make reparations, not only to those unlawfully dispossessed, but also to the broader communities.
Representing the land claimants, the attorney said that removing the folk was unlawful.
The Gambling Board gave Sigcau and the Umgungundlovu claimants 14 days to make further submissions, after which Sun International will be given 14 days to respond.
Wild Coast Sun casino management has warned that as many 500 permanent and 700 casual jobs are at stake should the gambling license not be renewed.