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By unknown | Apr 21, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Emotions ran high on Friday when Imran Desai and Mohammed Shaik appeared in court after their shop assistant's body was found in a sack in a dam.

The drama began when more than 50 disgruntled Ncotshane residents crowed into the tiny Pongola magistrates' court, causing chaos as they tried to get a glimpse of the kidnap suspects.

Some incensed residents tried to forced their way into the court and this resulted in a commotion between them, security guards and the police.

The court gallery is small and only a limited number were allowed in.

Police allowed only close rela- tives and family friends into courty, but the commotion continued for a few minutes.

The melee ended when it became know that the court had postponed the case to Friday for a bail hearing.

The crowd started singing freedom songs and headed for town, where they forced all the shops belonging to non-South Africans to shut down.

Police were called in and had to use pepper spray to disperse a group of toyi-toying youths. Later they went back to Ncotshane, where they burnt parts of a store.

No arrests were made.

Local councillor Jabulani Ngwenya said the incident has divided the community along racial lines and could explode into a complete disaster if not addressed soon.

"As a result we are arranging meetings in all 11 wards in Pongola, where businesspeople of Indian origin operate," Ngwenya said. "We want to address the matter with the urgency it deserves.

"Generally the public is angry, and has threatened to chase all Indian residents out of the area."

The racial tension in the town exploded when Desai' s shop assitant, Skhumbuzo Mbokazi, went missing for two weeks until his body was found in the Jozini Dam.

Mbokazi was heard screaming when he was locked up in the shop's storeroom after allegedly being suspected of stealing.

His body was found last Tuesday in a sack that was weighted down with stones and thrown into the dam. Soon after his parents had identified the body , angry community members burnt Desai's shop and threatened his family.


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