Farmer faces charges over levelling graves

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

The carrot farmer who flattened 1000 graves of the relatives of farmworkers on his land now faces charges of malicious damage to property.

This comes after the relatives of those buried on Greenway Farm in Randfontein, on the West Rand, opened a case with the police yesterday.

On Easter Monday vegetable farmer Vincent Sequeira levelled the two grave sites to make way for a carrot field.

Police confirmed yesterday that investigations had begun but no arrest had been made.

On Good Friday the families, from as far as North West and Northern Cape, converged on the farm to perform their annual grave-cleansing ritual. But when some returned five days later, the place had been levelled, with only a few tombstones left intact.

Some families said they had buried their relatives on the farm between 1980 and 2005.

West Rand police spokesman Captain Joseph Mogoai said the statement the police received indicated that the person involved had damaged the graves intentionally.

Sequeira is currently out of the country.

"The person involved is presently out of the country and will be arrested as soon as he returns," Mogoai said.

Local councillor Thembi Matuwane said a meeting between the council and the families, to be held tomorrow, would determine whether or not they should continue with the case.

"If Sequeira stands by his word that he will restore the graves, then maybe we will consider dropping the charges against him.

"Some leaders were proposing that he should instead build a big monument with all the deceased's names on it, but that would depend on what the families decide."