body found in the dam

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The conservative town of Hoedspruit in Limpopo is at it again.

Barely a week after an elderly man was buried after a lengthy burial dispute between his family and a farm owner on whose land they lived, another body believed to have been the victim of racial attack was discovered.

This after the body of Matonyetele Sithole was found floating in a dam on the MCA Citrus Farm in Hoedspruit last week.

Sithole's body was discovered by a group of farm workers who were working on the orange farm near a dam last Wednesday.

Police said the body was in a state of decomposition, which suggested that Sithole, 58, could have been killed or fallen into the dam last weekend.

But farm workers, who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said yesterday that Sithole was last seen coming from his girlfriend's house holding a fishing rod on his way to the dam.

"He was allegedly found fishing in the dam by a group of white men who assaulted him and forced him to jump into the dam," said the source.

Hoedspruit police spokesman Inspector Richard Zitha said the police were conducting an inquest.

Zitha said no arrest had been made but the case might be changed to murder depending on investigations, which he said were at a sensitive stage.

"We are questioning everyone in connection with the case, including the farm owner and farm workers," Zitha said yesterday.

The incident happened about 10km from the farm Welverdiend, on which the Mokoena family were involved in a legal tussle with the farm owner, Hanes Wessles, over graves on the farm.

About 15km away, at the Mokwalo White Lion Project, another farm worker, Nelson Chisale, was thrown into a lions enclosure alive and fed to the lions by his former boss, Mark Scott-Crossley, a few years ago.

Maruleng municipal manager Refilwe Ramothwala described Hoedspruit as a hotbed of racially inspired violence.

Ramothwala said most people linked to this type of racial acts were people who had come to the town for tourism purposes and did not live in the town full-time.

"But we are watching with keen interest what is happening in our land of birth," he said.

Ramothwala urged people living on the farms to be united in order to win the battle against the scourge of racism.