mom jubilant after winning fight for burial

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

Gogo Aria Mokoena jumped for joy when she was told she could bury her son with his ancestors on a white man's farm.

But she had to live through six weeks of hell since the day he died before she could find peace.

"This is the best news I have heard in months.

"I have spent sleepless nights hoping that God would send his angels to speak to the farmer to change his mind.

"At least now we can stop mourning and bury my son like any other dead person in the graves where his ancestors are buried."

Senios Mokoena died six weeks ago but the family only got the go-ahead to bury him on Welverdiend Farm in Hoedspruit last Sunday after lawyers had intervened and agreed to a settlement.

The farmer, Hannes Wessels, with his lawyer, A driaan Vo ster, met the Mokoena family outside the Randburg magistrate's court yesterday and struck a deal that Mokoena would be allowed to be buried on Wessels' land.

Aria could not hold back her jubilation when she heard that Wessels had finally agreed that the funeral and burial could take place on his farm.

Aria said she had the Maruleng municipality to thank for the good job they had done in supporting the family.

She said the municipality had stood by them since the dispute started weeks ago.

Wessels stopped Senios's funeral by claiming that he did not know him and that he was not on a list of farm dwellers.

Wessels' father had allegedly made a list of 78 people who lived on the farm but when Senios died the farmer produced a list of 76 people and Senios's name was not on it.

Wessels told the family that Senios could not be buried in the graves on the farm because his name did not appear on the list.

The funeral had to be postponed three times until the Mokoena family approached the Randburg land claims court to help them settle the dispute.

It was not the first time that the Mokoena and the Wessels families have clashed.

The Mokoenas were involved in a stand-off with Wessels last year over a piece of land on the farm after Wessels had evicted them saying he wanted to use the land for game farming.

He then erected a compound on the outskirts of the farm and adjacent to a mall in Hoedspruit for them.

The Mokoena family also accused Wessels of auctioning their livestock without consulting them.