21 held over faction fighting

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

In a major breakthrough, the police special task team deployed in Bergville, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, have arrested 21 people believed to be linked to faction fighting that has claimed scores of lives.

Police were led to a hideout where suspects, believed to be leaders in the faction fighting, had buried their firearms.

A cache of AK-47 assault rifles, handguns and other automatic weapons were unearthed during the Easter weekend.

Police spokesman Director Phindile Radebe said yesterday four suspects would appear in court today. "The suspects will face murder charges and one of them will be charged in Benoni.

"We are hoping that the situation will go back to normal," Radebe said.

She said police were in the area around the clock, to monitor the situation. Investigations were continuing with a possibility of more arrests.

It's alleged that four of the suspects were involved in a murder in Benoni, in Gauteng.

There are ongoing talks between community leaders, izinduna and Inkosi Menzi Hlongwane over the boundary issue, the cause of all the trouble.

Another meeting has been scheduled for today to be held at the border in question.

MEC for agriculture Mtholephi Mthimkulu and acting premier Mike Mabuyakhulu are to be part of the meeting.

The dispute over land boundaries between the communities of Mhlwazini and Magangangozi has claimed the lives of four people.

The faction fighting is also felt as far as Gauteng as factions pursue each other outside KwaZulu-Natal.

Hundreds of women and children fled their homes when the faction fighting erupted, leaving more than 20 homes burnt.

The Didima Camp, which attracts hordes of tourists, was closed last week, but it has since reopened after police were deployed in the area.

An elderly woman, who asked not to be named, said police were trying to curb the violence in the area and the community should commit themselves to peace.

"People are coming back home following the tension, but the situation is worrying because police will leave us here," she said.

"We heard that people had been arrested, but others are furious after their homes were destroyed.

"They will seek revenge. We fear that the attackers will come back," the woman added.