Farm tenants and police clash

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Chaos erupted outside the Dannhauser magistrate's court in northern KwaZulu-Natal when farm dwellers clashed with police.

The farm dwellers were there to support 16 fellow tenants who were appearing in court for an "illegal gathering" they had held on Monday.

The accused were arrested while protesting against the eviction of a widow, Lizzy Nkosi, 40, from the Slytelspoort farm by the owner of the farm.

Farm tenants, mostly women, had held a march on Monday demanding that Nkosi should be allowed back on the farm.

"She was born there and grew up there," they said.

Yesterday, when the 16 appeared in court, confrontation broke out between protesters and the police. The clash started when police prevented them from entering the court.

No one was injured.

Police spokesman Captain Shooz Magudulela disputed the accused's claim that when they were arrested they were shot at with rubber bullets and assaulted.

"They were arrested for an illegal gathering and I can confirm that no one was injured. They appeared in court and were released on warning until October 4," said Magudulela.

Farm dwellers and workers movement, Afra, said Monday's march was one of many they had held to protest against farm eviction without success.

"We have been holding protests since July. On Women's Day, hundreds of women staged a sit-in at the land affairs office in Newcastle, but nothing came out of that," said Afra spokesman Thabo Manyathi.

Manyathi accused police of assaulting unarmed women and using excessive force at Monday's march.

"It was the worst use of force I have ever experienced. Five people were seriously injured."

Sipho Khumalo of the Landless People's Movement said five of Nkosi's children had been forced to drop out of school because of the eviction.

"The family has now been broken. Nkosi's 19-year-old daughter is now staying with an 80-year-old grandpa, while her six-year-old girl is staying with another granny because they are homeless. But we will fight to the bitter end," said Khumalo.

l Meanwhile, police are still searching for the suspects who attacked and killed a farmer, Andy Main, at his Gilmore Hill farm in Crammond, outside Pietermaritzburg, on Sunday.

Main was shot dead at close range.