An alleged land grab attempt at a sugar cane farm in the Mthwalume area has left a farm manager hospitalised after he was reportedly thrown into a fire.
The 7500ha farm, believed to be valued at more than R300-million, is administered by the Mathulini Communal Property Association and the Ndelu Community Trust on behalf of the land claimant community.
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The manager, who says he now fears for his life, was attacked in a cane field by four men before being thrown into a fire.
Police spokesman Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that the 24-year-old had been attacked in KwaMasende in Sipofu.
According to Captain Gwala, the man suffered burns and was taken to hospital.
“A case of attempted murder is being investigated by Umsinsini SAPS,” he said.
Inkosi Bhekizizwe Luthuli, the Mathulini Communal Property Association’s spokesman, said in a statement that the alleged perpetrators had failed on several occasions to lodge a land claim against the same farm.
“The farm forms part of a legitimate land claim and this violent hijack is a desperate and unlawful attempt to achieve what failed through legal processes that have cost the legitimate beneficiaries about R6.5m in legal fees,” Inkosi Luthuli said.
The Inkosi said the farms in question produce more than 400 000 tons of sugar cane annually, with a staff complement of about 1200.
He added that they had written to the new Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development MEC, Thoko Didiza requesting an urgent intervention on the matter.
It is believed the farm is in phase one of the three-phase claim lodged by the community in the late 90s.
The first phase was completed in 2012, while phases two and three are yet to be concluded.
The Inkosi urged the minister to stop the violent and illegitimate attempted hijack of this land claim.
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