KZN farm fight hits a donga

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Church leaders have called on the Land Affairs Department to speedily resolve tensions at a farm on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast where a farm manager was beaten to death by an angry mob in January.

Ken Eva was killed at New Venture farm in Melmoth and two people were arrested for the killing.

Reverend Bheki Buthelezi from the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council has tried to mediate but has had no joy.

The Department of Land Affairs was to have appointed a mediator last week.

Since Eva's death tensions on the farm have increased and police have been deployed in the area.

The conflict is between farm owner Mark Chennels and members of the Esbhonsweni community.

The community claim that the land they occupy on part of Chennels' farm is communal land under the jurisdiction of local iNkosi Thandazani Zulu.

Chennels yesterday called the community "illegal land invaders".

He said a government surveys on March 11 found that the families were on his farm illegally.

He bought the farm in 1998.

"My land has been surveyed seven times," he said.

Acting chief director of land affairs in the province, Vela Mngwengwe, said several options were being pursued to resolve the crises at the farm.

These included mediation or buying the land that the families are occupying.

"At this stage I cannot tell you which option we are pursuing," said Mngwengwe.

"We were approached by Chennels to intervene in this matter," he said.