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MANZINI - Every cloud has a silver lining!

This phrase rings true for a spooked Sibandze family, which had to relocate after it was allegedly haunted by ghosts in its home at Ncabaneni.
Initially, the Sibandze family was allocated a piece of land at Ncabaneni and when they had just built a one-room flat and a makeshift kitchen, trouble started. A few years down the line, the multi-billion Emalangeni Eswatini Rail Link (ESRL) project, through its surveys, had to relocate approximately 600 graves, an event that saw the new graveyard being located next to the Sibandze family’s home.


The rail link development was launched over a decade ago by the governments of South Africa and Eswatini, through their railway companies; Transnet Freight Rail and Eswatini Railways, respectively. The project, which was estimated to cost E29 billion in 2016, will include a construction of greenfield and brownfield railway lines. The greenfield railway line will start from Lothair in South Africa (SA) to Sidvokodvo in Eswatini, while the brownfield railway lines will be the upgrading of the existing ones between Davel and Ermelo to Lothair (SA), then Sidvokodvo to Lavumisa via Phuzumoya and Golela to Nsese (Richards Bay).

According to the head of the family, Goodboy Sibandze (49), most of the time he would be alone at his home as his four children were staying with their mother since some of them were schooling. He said after putting off the candle at night, he would hear some movements in the house and, at times, he would see light inside the room. Again, at times he alleged that spirits, which he believed to be ghosts, would chock him. Once more, he said a ghost would sit on him while asleep, prompting him to wake up and pray. Thereafter, he said it would go away. He said he reported the matter to the authorities in the area and the stakeholders of the project.

He said later on, they allocated him another piece of land away from the graveyard, where they asked him to build a temporary structure, which he would use in the mean time. When the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe, launched the ESRL Resettlement Project about a week ago, it was announced that about E271.7 million had been allocated for the first phase of the project, where 94 out of 214 homesteads and three churches were being relocated and also they would compensate those whose fields and other assets would be affected by the project.


The Sibandze family was one of the families that benefited from the programme of getting a new home - one bedroom house with a bathroom and a kitchen. On top of that, the home would be connected to electricity and water. Also, according to Sibandze, they were also compensated following the fact that they were affected by the project. “I used some of the money paid as compensation to buy a car - one of the not so old Toyota Corolla sedans,” Sibandze said. He highlighted that as a family, they had already benefitted from the project and this was even before the start of civil works, where they had been promised that they would be given first preference in terms of employment opportunities. Meanwhile, ERSL Project Director Sandile ‘SK’ Dlamini highlighted that currently, they were constructing 94 homesteads and three churches.


He said the money allocated for this process was E213 million. Again, he said they had already spent E14 million on civil works, where 94 homes were under construction, among other things. He added that E9.7 million had been spent in paying consultancy fees. Also, he said at least E35 million had been issued out as compensation to a number of residents. However, he highlighted that the total budget for compensating the affected residents from the 14 chiefdoms was E80 million - and the remaining amount would be paid to the beneficiaries as the resettlement process continues. He clarified that out of the affected homesteads, some would be relocated and compensated for fields and other asserts like trees, while others would only be compensated as the project would not affect structures.