Land‚ race tensions underscore KZN farm worker murder

02 January 2018 - 14:48 By Jeff Wicks
Lady Justice
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

A bitter feud over land allegedly lies at the heart of the brutal slaying of Mothiwa Ngubane‚ gunned down on the farm in Cramond‚ KwaZulu-Natal‚ on which he worked by the man who employed him on Saturday.

Longstanding tensions between farmer Edward Philip Solomon and the Lembethe family preceded the weekend’s bloody shooting‚ which saw the farmer allegedly turning his gun on a group of mourners at a funeral.

Ngubane is understood to have intervened when Solomon allegedly raised the barrel of his gun and trained the sights on Mondli Lembethe‚ who had been busy digging a grave to bury a family member.

In the fight for control of the weapon‚ Ngubane was felled by a single bullet.

The murder has exposed racial fault-lines in the agrarian community‚ drawing back the veil on allegations of historical prejudice and violence.

Solomon‚ 65‚ cut a beleaguered figure in the dock of the New Hanover Magistrate’s court on Tuesday morning.

Sporting an unkempt beard and an ample head of grey hair‚ a faded camouflage jacket hung on his shoulders.

Outside court‚ a group of irate protesters chanted “kill the boer”.

The 65-year-old farmer was remanded in custody‚ and will spend the week in Pietermaritzburg’s New Prison before he applies for bail. As he was being ferried to the remand centre‚ the group of demonstrators blockaded the police convoy and furiously pounded on the canopy of the police van which held him.

A member of the Lembethe family‚ who requested anonymity‚ told TimesLIVE that Solomon had been incensed that the funeral had taken place.

“He didn’t want my family buried on the land and that is why he came. He was so angry and then he started shooting‚” the man said.

One of Solomon’s former neighbours‚ Tapiwa Chadya‚ said his family had bought land adjacent to Solomon’s farm.

“This man is known in the area. He walks around his farm with his dogs and carries guns all the time. He was often shooting his weapons‚” he said.