The brutal murder of one of KwaZulu-Natal’s most respected food producers, Mpozana Khumalo, aged 80, has left the agricultural community on edge.
Khumalo, who has been described as a pioneer in his farming community, died in hospital last Friday while being treated for a gunshot wound. He was attacked on Tuesday, 24 November 2020 while tending to his livestock with his son.
His attackers reportedly tied him to a tree and then later shot him. He spent three days in hospital fighting for his life.
Angus Williamson, chairperson of the Mooi River Farmers’ Association, describes Khumalo as a “humble giant” who went out of his way to support his community.
“We, as a community and a farmers’ association, are devastated. I mean the man was 80 years old. What harm was he going to do to anybody? It’s absolutely disgusting that society has gone to that level where you have to shoot an old man who was the most humble and nicest person,” Williamson exclaims.
“Who kills someone who is simply trying to make a difference?” – ANGUS WILLIAMSON
Williamson, who knows the Khumalo family personally, goes on to say that the deceased farmer dedicated his entire life to the agricultural sector and the upliftment of his community.
“He did so much for his community, especially during the covid-19 period. When people were battling to survive, he did not think twice to slaughter animals and feed them. He even assisted financially where he could and now this happens. It’s biting the hand that feeds you and its absolutely ridiculous,” he says.
Williamson describes the past few days following Khumalo’s death as terrible. “Speaking on behalf of commercial farmers, it’s the end of an era for us in this area because here’s only one or two people of his vintage and knowledge.”
Loss of skills, wisdom and expertise
CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu), Sandy La Marque, tells Food For Mzansi that they too are extremely concerned that yet another elder of the agricultural community lost his life through violence.
“The impact that the loss of skills, wisdom and expertise has is irreplaceable,” she says. “Whilst we demand action, the course of the law must act swiftly and bring these callous perpetrators to book.”
La Marque says the KwaZulu-Natal aagricultural sector at large are highly concerned about the blatant lack of respect for law and order.
“It is impacting investment and sentiment. Kwanalu is addressing this serious onslaught of crime against the agricultural sector in the province and calls on government and stakeholders to take action now.”
Society has gone too far
KwaZulu-Natal farmer and agricultural researcher, Qinisani Qwabe, says society needs to go back to their humanness because the killing of an elderly person, farmers or anyone else does not make sense.
“We are talking about people that are carrying our nation and ensuring we are food secure at all times. Who kills someone who is simply trying to make a difference? I find it hard to understand,” Qwabe says.
He wonders about the effectiveness of Mzansi’s police system and thinks greater efforts should be made by the police to work with farmers.
“Especially those on large portions of land farming in isolated areas, it seems like these farmers are mostly targeted because they are far from everything and everyone.”
Qwabe does, however, acknowledge that the murder of people in the agricultural sector are not only a police matter, but an issue that needs collective input.