Mob kills farmer at land dispute meeting

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A northern KwaZulu-Natal farmer, Kenneth Lionel Eva, was brutally killed in a dispute over land on Tuesday afternoon.

The killing happened in Nkwalini, in Melmoth, after the 47-year-old farmer reportedly destroyed 30 houses on what he claimed was his property.

Eva said the houses should not have been built on his land - but the residents said they owned the land and could therefore build on it.

On Tuesday a meeting between Eva and the residents ended in a heated argument. Eva is reported to have fired a shot in the air and this enraged the people.

A man who attended the meeting, and who asked to remain anonymous, said Eva had provoked the residents and treated them with disdain.

"We are the legal owners of the land but the farmer disagreed. He has been killing our livestock and assaulting us. We couldn't take it anymore.

"Though it was wrong to kill him like that, he would have killedsomeone if we did not defended ourselves.

"Farmers must realise that, if they respect us, we will respect them," he said.

An Ulundi police spokesman, Captain Vusi Mbatha, said that after Eva fired a shot about 250 people attacked him.

"They used knobkerries, sticks, pangas and bush knives to kill him. They used whatever they had," said Mbatha.

He said no arrests had been made.

"We have told people on numerous occasions that they must not take the law into their own hands.

"Now I warn all those who were part of the killing that we are coming after them," said Mbatha.

A spokesman for the Association for Rural Advancement, Sfiso Kunene, condemned the killing, but said the land issue must be resolved.

"Though we condemn the killing, it will serve as a wake-up call to the government that people are angry about the land issue," said Kunene.

He said land redistribution and restoration must be carried out speedily and equitably.