farm burial dispute

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The Mokoena family in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, was unable to bury their grandfather on Good Friday because of a dispute with a local farmer over a piece of land.

The family wanted to bury their grandfather, Seniors Mokoena, on the farm.

However, when they arrived at the farm in the morning security guards had barricaded the gates leading to the graveyard, to stop the funeral from taking place.

The farm manager, Pieter Erasmus, of Welverdient farm, told the family and mourners that they were not allowed to have the funeral.

Erasmus told the family that the funeral would not take place because the name of the dead man did not appear on the list of people who lived on the land.

Hundreds of mourners from Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Mozambique had travelled to Limpopo for the funeral.

The farm at the centre of the dispute lies 2km behind the Pick 'n Pay Mall in Hoedpsruit near Phalaborwa, Limpopo.

Mokoena was born on the farm in 1936 and lived there with his mother, Aria Mokoena, who was born there in 1909.

In August 2007, the Bango and Mokoena families were allegedly evicted from the farm. The families allege the farmer forced them to selltheir livestock because he needed to use the piece of land for game farming.

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, Erasmus said he was advised to stop the funeral because the name of the dead man did not appear on the list of people who lived on the land.

According to Erasmus, the list had 76 people and Mokoena's name was not one of them.

But the Mokoenas dispute this, saying the original list had 78 names and that their grandfather's name was among them.

Family spokesman Beers Bango said the family would continue with the funeral today with or without the permission of the farmer.

"We lived on the farm in peace and harmony with Erasmus, his parents and his grandparents before he was born.

"Who does he think he is to deny us the right to bury our father on our ancestral land?" Bango demanded.

The spokesman for Greater Maruleng Municipality, John Seokoma, said the municipality had arranged an urgent meeting between the family and the farmer to try and settle the dispute.

The meeting would take place at the municipal offices in Hoedspruit today.