South Africa 2.1.2018 06:30 am

Farmer allegedly shoots mourner dead over land saga at KZN funeral

Crime Scene tape

Crime Scene tape

Festering anger across the race and land divide erupted into violence yesterday when a 42-year-old funeral mourner was shot dead, allegedly by a farmer in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

On the one side were people who have lived and worked on the farm all their lives, holding a funeral for one of their own.

On the other, a farmer whose family have, equally, owned the land in the Cramond area for generations, but who was allegedly angry at the noise made by the funeral goers.

When he went to the place where the ceremonies were being held, things reportedly got heated and an argument ensued between him and mourners. According to eyewitnesses, the farmer demanded that they stop the funeral and leave the farm immediately.

They claim that the farmer then pulled out his gun, cocked it and fired three shots, killing 42-year-old Mothi Ngubane.

The farmer then allegedly fled the scene, but was later arrested by police. Police Spokesperson Nqobile Gwala told SABC News that a number of firearms were found in possession of the farmer. He is expected to appear in court soon on charges of murder.

Those living on the farm told SABC News they had earlier requested assistance from the police. Ntombifikile Lembethe, a farm dweller, said: “We had notified the police about the troublesome farmer and we requested that they come to monitor the situation, but they did not come and we carried on with the funeral until the farmer came and shot him.”

Police couldn’t confirm that they had been called to the farm to monitor the burial. The farmer’s family could not be reached for comment. The issue of burials on farms has become a contentious one in recent years, especially against a background of attacks on white farmers and of pressure for land restitution. In a document relating to protocols about burials on farms, Agri Western Cape noted that farmers and their families had traditionally been buried on the land, as had the farm workers and their families.

“There were strong cultural and religious reasons why people wanted to be buried near their families and ancestors. “In African culture it is very important that a person be buried according to the correct burial rites.”

Argis Western Cape said the Extension of Tenure Security Act of 1997 initially made no provision for burials on farms – only for visiting existing family graves. In 2002 the Act was amended to allow for burial on a farm in certain instances, including where the deceased had been a longterm occupier or where the person had at the time of his/her death been an occupier on a farm where it was customary to allow burials.

“Under these circumstances the land owner is obliged to permit the burial although he/she may set reasonable conditions for such burial.”

The organisation acknowledged there were land owners who feared that farm burials could later result in land claims in respect of the farm.

“This fear is, however, misplaced as the cut-off dates for both restitution and labour tenant claims have passed.”

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