Tribute to the Legend: William Mnyandu (1933 – 2015)

Tribute to the Legend: William Mnyandu (1933 – 2015)

By: Ndabe Ziqubu

Mr. Mnyandu was a land rights activist who demonstrated his concerns about people’s rights in land while he was an induna at Ekuthuleni and beyond.


He was concerned about the tenure conditions under which people lived, which proved to be very insecure, and prevailing problems relating to internal boundaries, ownership of plots, access to resources for people to develop themselves.

This drove him to approach the Department on behalf of the community and seek ways of addressing tenure related problems besetting Ekuthuleni community.

He was the architecture of the “Individual Ownership Documents (IODs)” that sought to address the challenges outlined above, which unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, could not be validated.

Realising that his ideas could not be practicalized through the government’s land reform approach, he relentlessly pursued his mission of the invention of documents that would carry the same weight and have the same legal status as the title deeds, but would not subject people to exorbitant amounts as the case is with the process of developing and issuing of a title deed.

This saw him leading a project on behalf of the Ekuthuleni community that involved different government departments exploring ways and means of turning his vision into reality.

His ideas, reflected in the work done at Ekuthuleni, fed into the process of drafting the currently defunct Communal Land Rights Act, which sought to transfer title to individual households within communal tenure systems.


He featured in many platforms sharing his views and ideas with the view of influencing policy and legislation to work in favour of the marginalized, poor black people.

He fought against legal pluralism and for the rationalization of the legal system which gave rise to hybrid structures, the communal property institutions, in the form of traditional authority structures as custodians of customary land tenure under customary systems of tenure, and communal property associations or trusts constituted in terms of the current land reform legislations; and the inherent contestations of power and limited resources.

He was a proponent of equity and justice, both in terms of the application of the law as well as how government officials conduct themselves.

At the time of his passing away he demonstrated this through challenging the illegal restitution claims by ama-Khosi using the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act 15 of 2014.


This resulted in an unfortunate incident of the burning down of his property at Ekuthuleni, which led to him contracting illness that led to his life deteriorating until he passed on.

He may be gone but his spirit will always be with us. His passing on is a loss not only to his family but to the black masses who still suffer the injustices and who subscribed to his views and ideas.

Our wish is for his struggle for just land reform laws and policies that talk to conditions prevailing on the ground, as well as equitable access to land for various land use needs, not to be in vain, that we continue from where he left off and ensure that his mission and vision is accomplished.


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