'Give peace a chance'

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Senior government officials, the police and community leaders gathered at Bergville in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands yesterday to try and negotiate an end to the violence between rival factions in the area.

Clashes between the Mhlwazini and Magangangozi communities since last month have left five people dead.

The conflict between the communities started in 1989. The dispute centres on the building of homes by the Magangangozi faction on a boundary on the Mhlwazini side of the area.

The Magangangozi claim that a headman from the Mhlwazini group gave permission for the houses to be built in that area.

The Mhlawazini community disputes this. Several attempts at brokering peace between the two by local leaders in the past had failed.

During yesterday's meeting, provincial police commissioner Hamilton Ngidi first met the Mhlwazini residents and urged them to stop fighting, calm down and allow peace-keeping initiatives to be implemented.

Ngidi pleaded with them to work with the police and to point out those perpetuating violence.

He later met the Magangangozi group and delivered a similar message.

Ngidi said he was positive that after meeting both sides, peace would prevail and the situation return to normal. Leaders of the two factions were not available for comment.

Police spokesman Charmaine Struwig confirmed that five people had been gunned down since the tension reached boiling point last month.

Three of them were apparently buried on Saturday.

"On Sunday, the Magangangozi and Mhlwazini groups clashed near the disputed boundary, resulting in 20 houses in the Magangangozi area being burnt down.

"During the clashes, two people were injured. They sustained gunshot wounds. They are being treated in hospital. No arrests have been made yet," she said.

Meanwhile, Ezemvelo Wild Life announced that the clashes had led to the closure of a popular tourist attraction - the Didimo Camp at Cathedral Peak.

'Stop fighting, calm down and allow peace initiatives to be put in place,' police appeal to two warring factions.