Dannhauser in the grip of fear

TENSION is running high in the mining village of Dannhauser in northern KwaZulu-Natal after a man was allegedly stoned to death by angry patrons at a tavern.

Mfanafuthi Zwane allegedly stabbed Mhlengi Madondo to death after a quarrel at a tavern at the weekend. It is alleged that angry patrons subsequently stoned Zwane, who later died in hospital.

Zwane and Madondo had allegedly had an argument earlier on Saturday. Madondo had left Zwane alone and joined other patrons who were watching a football game on television in the tavern.

It is alleged that another argument later broke out between Zwane and Madondo. Zwane allegedly drew a knife and stabbed Madondo in the chest. Madondo tried to run away but fell on the doorstep of the tavern and died.

Angry patrons allegedly chased Zwane, caught up with him and stoned him.

A badly injured Zwane was allegedly left outside the tavern. A member of the community called the police.

Captain Vincent Mdunge said the police found Zwane lying on the ground. He was bleeding profusely and there was a whole lot of stones around him.

"It appears that he had been stoned by the community. Zwane was taken to Madadeni Hospital where he died," he said.

Mdunge said police had earlier opened a case of murder against Zwane.

"But the murder case against Zwane has since been closed. We are now investigating a case of murder against those who stoned him," said Mdunge.

He warned the community to refrain from vigilantism.

"There is no need for the community to take the law into their own hands. They cannot claim that they are solving crime while creating crime," Mdunge said.

Mayor Bongekile Shabalala said she would visit the area and call for peace in the troubled community.

"We have been informed that two rival groups had been formed following the killings. I'll go to the area soon and try to ease the tension that is allegedly building up," she said.

A patron, who asked not to be named, told Sowetan that tension was developing between two opposing youth groups in the area.

"The situation is tense as a result of the two deaths. We do not know what will happen next. We are still waiting to have a meeting with the mayor and traditional leadership.

"The reality is that taverns in the area have become a bad influence on the youth as they end up fighting and killing each other when drunk," the patron said.

He said the community was now living in feart.