Man (78) and his 1-year-old grandson die in village conflict
Villagers of eNhlawe, near Ladysmith in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, are living in fear of the resurgence of factional feuds that once engulfed the village.
Terrified residents have now resorted to seeking refuge in neighbouring villages or from relatives living in other provinces for fear that they might be next in the firing line.
More than 25 people have died since 2016 when the conflict erupted in KwaMadondo and eNhlawe villages, with five being killed last month.
Local headman Mzameleni Nxumalo told Sowetan the situation was exacerbated by the assassination of respected elderly Simon Fuqane Madondo, 78, in what appeared to be linked to an ongoing feud in the two villages.
Madondo was killed last Sunday by unknown gunmen at his home while in the company of his one-year-old grandson, who was also shot and killed during the attack.
The assailants allegedly fired a hail of bullets at both the elderly man and his grandson.
"Our concern is that innocent lives are being lost in the most brutal manner. How does one reconcile the barbaric killing of an innocent child with a hail of bullets? No parent should go through that. There are various reasons for these fights such as taxi wars, conflicts over land, livestock and women," Nxumalo said.
He said they had held several meetings between the rival factions to try and mend hostile relations.
Nxumalo said Madondo's death was a big blow as he was instrumental in spearheading peace talks in the two villages.
Nxumalo said the provincial department of community safety was not helping to end the feud.
Last month, Hawukile Myeza, 52, was killed and her case remains unresolved.
Police spokesperson Capt Nqobile Gwala said: "We have not made any arrests at the moment. Two murder charges have been opened in relation to the killing of the elderly and the grandson.
"We are hard at work investigating possible leads."
Gwala said they had not ascertained the motive for the killings or whether the deaths were related with the village murders.
Community safety spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa dismissed the claims that his department was dragging its feet to help end the conflict.
"We have dispatched a task team to the affected areas as part of our intervention to the conflict," Mntungwa said.
"We are also engaging the community and traditional leadership and the concerned villagers to find out what is the source of the problem.
"Police visibility will also be increased, especially pre- and post elections."