Durban – A lack of resolution over two previous deaths on farms in Eshowe led, in part, to the recent burning of three farms, the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs department said on Sunday.
This information emerged during a meeting between various stakeholders, which departmental spokesperson Bongani Tembe characterised as having led to “fruitful engagement ”.
This week, three farms were razed by fires started by a local farming community following the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man. Siphamandla Xulu was allegedly fishing on a private dam on Corby Hill farm in Umlalazi on Tuesday when he was shot by a security guard.
During Sunday’s meeting “we managed to get information that this was not the first incident”.
In previous years a body had been found on a farm in the area and, in a separate incident, a small boy died after he was knocked down by a tractor.
Although the incidents happened a few years ago, the community had never received information back from police about the outcome of investigations, explained Tembe.
“The community is not happy with what happened to those cases…[They want that] police should find out what happened to those cases.”
A resolution was therefore taken at the meeting that the community would be updated about these cases, which were registered at the time as culpable homicides.
Attending Sunday’s meeting where representatives from the farming community, including the chair of the Eshowe Farmers’ Association, as well as senior management from the organisation.
There were also representatives from provincial government departments, including community safety and economic development, tourism and environmental affairs.
District municipality officials and leaders of the community were also in attendance
“Our approach was to have engagement with the leadership of the community of those who were unhappy.”
Tembe said it also emerged at the meeting that overall, between farmers and the community, there was “not a bad relationship…These are the only issues.”
All those attending the meeting committed to establish a joint forum “where they can raise concerns when there are issues – to avoid what has happened now”.
In fact, what emerged, said Tembe was that the community had been “in the dark” about what really happened with this week’s killing.
Going forward, “there has to be open communication” he urged.
Furthermore, he said, those gathered also decided they would attend a meeting next week, which is being convened by traditional leadership in the area.
The owner of the farm where this week’s killing took place, a doctor, was not in attendance on Sunday, however, he has been in with the municipality. He is also a member of the farmers’ association which was in attendance, said Tembe.
The security guard connected to this week’s shooting appeared in court on Thursday. The case has been postponed to March 22.