Cops fear more KZN farm violence

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A detachment of police has been deployed to the farm where a 47-year-old farm manager, Kenneth Lionel Eva, was murdered by an angry mob on Tuesday afternoon.

Eva was killed near New Venture Farm in Nkwalini, near Melmoth in northern KwaZulu- Natal. A mob beat him to death with knobkerries.

It was reported that some people used axes to kill him before burning his bakkie.

Captain Vusi Mbatha said yesterday the situation was calm, but police would camp in the area until they were satisfied that the situation was back to normal.

"The family of the deceased are angry and when people are that angry they can do anything.

"We don't want a situation where corpses are discovered lying around in the bushes," Mbatha said.

Eva was killed after a meeting he had called to iron out a land dispute between himself and community members dating back to 2005.

Reverend Bheki Buthelezi of the KwaZulu Regional Christian Council, said: "Mr Ken read out a letter saying that people were on the land illegally and each family would be charged R1000 a year to stay on the land, and R100 for each cow grazing and R10 for each goat."

This demand raised emotions and a war of words ensued , and Eva fired a warning shot.

Vela Mngwengwe, the acting chief director for land affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, said he "would be surprised" if the owners had tried to extract rent because they "had gone to so much effort to have them removed".

A court order had recently been obtained by the farm owner for the eviction of people from about 80 dwellings.

"The land in dispute is, in fact, commercial land," he said.

A farm dwellers organisation, the Association for Rural Advancement, said yesterday that the killing was a wake-up call to the government.

"[These incidents] are a sign that people will resist and retaliate in an attempt to protect the few rights they have," Sifiso Kunene said.