After two farmworkers were killed in Mpumalanga, the KwaZulu-Natal premier has now also warned of mounting tension between farmers and their labourers in his province.
Last weekend, Sihle Zikalala met with farming communities in Pongolo, Newcastle and Vryheid in a desperate attempt to restore calm. This, after a Glückstadt farmer allegedly demolished the newly built home of a worker, Fana Mnguni.
“I support the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the concerns raised by the farming communities in KwaZulu-Natal. I have one reservation about commissions, it’s just that they take too long to resolve issues,” said Zikalala.
Accompanied by, among others, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, the MEC for agriculture and rural development, the premier encouraged communities to plant seeds of peace, unity and social cohesion to grow KwaZulu-Natal into “a fruitful and prosperous province”.
Mpumalanga siblings shot and killed
Meanwhile Mpumalanga Agriculture requested an urgent meeting with Mandla Msibi, this province’s MEC for agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs, to discuss the alleged murder of two brothers, Amos and Zenzele Coka.
It is claimed that the farmworkers were shot and killed by four farmers on Friday, 9 April after engaging about seasonal work on a farm near Dirkiesdorp. The accused, Daniel Malan, Cornelius Greyling, Othard Klingenberg and Ignatius Steynberg, will remain in custody until their next court appearance.
In a media release, however, Mpumalanga Agriculture says from their understanding the incident resulted from an alleged illegal march by members of a neighbouring community. The lives of workers, management and the farm owner were allegedly in danger.
Several farmers also injured
According to the agricultural organisation the farm owner apparently sent out a distress signal to neighbours. A scuffle reportedly broke out during which a worker was shot and killed and a protestor fatally wounded. Also, a farmer suffered a fractured skull, and several other farmers were seriously injured.
According to Mpumalanga Agriculture the farmer in question is not a member of the local farmers’ association.
While they regret the loss of life and the injuries during the incident, the organisation stresses that they “support the protection of lives and property from aggressive and brutal attacks by criminals.” It says it will investigate the absence of a specialised unit of the police during the explosive situation.
Furthermore, Mpumalanga Agriculture urged the public not to draw conclusions based on unconfirmed information. This, it says, is “for the sake of a peaceful and stable environment in which our farmers and their workers can continue their important task of producing food.”