NEWS
19/03/2018 06:30 SAST | Updated 19/03/2018 06:30 SAST

Eshowe Farm Torchings Were 'Not About Land'

Community members say their anger was caused by the death of a man and an unresolved murder from years ago, and not about land.

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Protests in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where a sugarcane plantation and a guest house were set alight, were not about land, but rather about the unresolved deaths of two people on the land, according to a report in The Witness.

The KZN department of economic development and tourism reportedly held a community meeting on Sunday, which included farming associations. It emerged that community members were angry because of the shooting of a man by a security guard on the farm last week, as well as the rumoured death of a small boy who community members said was run over by a truck.

Community members reportedly said they had had no feedback on the cases, although it emerged that a man is due to appear in court on Monday in connection with last week's shooting.

According to The Witness, the department said last week that the violence was because of unresolved land claims, although the farm affected by the violence was not under claim. But the department was wrong, a spokesperson, Bongani Tembe, reportedly said on Sunday.

"We found that there was a lot of unhappiness on the side of the community. There were rumours that a body was found decomposing in a dam a few years ago, and also that a small boy was run over by a truck. The MEC [Sihle Zikalala] has asked the SAPS to provide the community with an update to both cases," Tembe reportedly said.

According to News24, Tembe also said there was no bad relationship between the communities, farmers, government structures and others attending the meetings. It was only the issues that had caused the anger, he said.

Those in attendance would now form a joint forum where issues could be ventilated, he reportedly added.

The Sunday Tribune reported that most of the damage caused last week was done to Corby Hill farm, owned by ophthalmologist Dr Fikilia Qoboshiyane. Staff quarters were reportedly also burned, along with a workshop housing tractors and an office. Neighbouring farms were also destroyed.

A traditional leader told the Sunday Tribune that the anger was caused by "years of abuse", although it has since emerged that this was not true.

One person has been arrested in connection with the protests, according to eNCA.