The family of two brothers who died a day after each other believe their deaths were the result of a land dispute between the community and local farmers.
Mbuso David Magwaza, 53, of Oakford in Verulam, north of Durban, died on Monday after allegedly being assaulted on Saturday by three farmers who had accused him of stealing litchis.
Magwaza's family said he was beaten with iron rods and sticks, and that his spine was broken. When he was admitted to hospital, his family said, nurses told them that one of his arms and a leg would have to be amputated.
Magwaza died on Monday morning.
When Magwaza's younger brother, Ndoda, 42, heard that his brother had died, he collapsed at work and died in hospital the next day.
Police spokesman Mandla Khumalo said arrests were imminent.
"We were investigating an assault charge but now it is murder. We are wrapping up [taking] statements and will make arrests today. The suspects are known," he said.
Samuel Magwaza, a headman and an uncle of the Magwaza brothers, said yesterday that the farmers had been assaulting people in the community for a long time. He said the dispute started three years ago when the community claimed land occupied by the farmers.
"Every time there is an incident the [claims] are withdrawn because people don't want to give evidence. They are afraid.
"We live at the mercy of the farmers," Samuel Magwaza said.
He said that when the community was awarded the land it had claimed it would "chase the farmers away".