South Africa: Farm manager thrown into fire after foiling violent land takeover
London, July 9, 2019 (AltAfrica)-A violent attempt to take over a sugar cane farm in the Mtwalume area, near Ifafa Beach on the South Coast,South Africa has left a farm manager with burns after he was thrown into a fire.
The manager, who did not want to be named, refused to talk about his Friday morning experience, saying he feared for his life.
The 7500ha farm valued at over R300 million, is administered by the Mathulini Communal Property Association and the Ndelo Community Trust on behalf of the land claimant community.
Inkosi Bhekizizwe Luthuli, the association’s spokesperson, said a group of people had set the farm alight and then thrown the manager into the fire.
Luthuli, also a Member of Parliament, said the perpetrators had failed on numerous occasions when they lodged a land claim against the same farms.
“He (the manager) was hospitalised with first degree burns. The farms form part of a legitimate land claim and this violent hijack is a desperate and unlawful attempt to achieve what has failed through legal processes that have so far cost the legitimate beneficiaries R6.5m in legal fees,” said Luthuli.
He said the farms that make up the land claim produced 400000 tons of sugarcane annually, and employed 1200 workers.
Luthuli said they had written to the new Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza to request her urgent intervention.
The minister’s spokesperson, Phuti Mabelebele, said she could only respond to the Daily News’ request for comment on Monday
Luthuli alleged that police dispatched to the area, over the past few days, had done nothing to stop the violence.
The farm is phase one of the three-phase claim lodged by the community to the department in the late 1990s. The phase was concluded in 2012 (at a cost of R80.9m for the purchase of the farms), while phases two and three – which were supposed to have been concluded in 2013 and 2014 – have been delayed.
Musa Mnguni, chairperson of the Ndelu Community Trust, said they were aware of a group of people who claimed to have ownership of the farm in question.
“We have met these people before in the presence of the department where the latter had advised the group to come forward with proof of ownership, but they have failed.
“I am yet to gather information about the recent incident before I can comment further,” Mnguni said.
Police said a case of assault with intent grievous bodily harm is under investigation.
Spokesperson Nqobile Gwala said: “There was a fire at a sugarcane field in the KwaMasende area, where a 24-year-old man was assaulted by four suspects. They pushed him into the fire but he managed to put it out by rolling on the ground.
“He sustained burns.”