Residents flee as KZN faction fight escalates

Canaan Mdletshe and Mhlaba Memela

Canaan Mdletshe and Mhlaba Memela

The faction fighting between the Mhlwazini and Magangangozi communities in Bergville, northern KwaZulu-Natal, turned bloody, forcing residents to flee their homes yesterday.

Residents, fearing for their lives, were seen carrying their belongings out of the area.

The dispute, allegedly over boundaries, began early this year, but reached boiling point last month when five people were killed.

Unconfirmed reports have put the figure of those injured in the fighting at 18. On Sunday 20 homes were burnt down.

A policeman in a unit deployed to the area, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the situation as "very tense". She said they were not sure of the exact cause of the fighting but had been told that it was about a boundary.

"Apparently one faction wants its boundary to be expanded so that they have enough space to build houses and for their livestock to graze," she said.

Three of the people killed were buried on Saturday and on Sunday two people were seriously injured, forcing residents to flee."

The policeman said most of the people slept in the mountains at night and only returned to their homes during the day.

Police spokesman Director Phindile Hadebe said police presence has been beefed up to ensure there were no further attacks. She said police would remain in the area until it was safe.

Yesterday, a special meeting involving provincial police commissioner Hamilton Ngidi, local inkosi Menzi Hlongwane, headmen, members of the Community Policing Forum and the two factions was held in Bergville.

When contacted for comment, Ngidi confirmed that he was part of the meeting but refused to elaborate further.