Berg suspects due in court

2008-03-23 00:00

Twenty-one people arrested for charges — including murder — following violence over Bergville land disputes will appear in court tomorrow.

Their appearance follows the discovery of an arsenal of weapons, including AK47 rifles, last week by a provincial SAPS special task team, which arrested the suspects in Bergville following tensions that left four people dead in the area.

Hundreds of families were displaced when more than 20 homes were burnt down during the faction fighting. A murder committed in Benoni, Gauteng, was linked to the Bergville violence.

SAPS provincial director Phindile Radebe said one of the suspects will be charged for the Benoni murder.

"Four of the suspects will appear in court tomorrow on murder charges, and one of them will be charged for the Benoni murder."

Police swooped on the suspects in the early hours of Thursday morning, and the men pointed out to the police where they had buried their firearms.

She said the arrests were a major breakthrough in the efforts to end the faction fighting over land boundaries.

"Police discovered a number of AK47 assault rifles, hand guns and other automatic weapons."

The violence resulted in the closure of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Didima camp last week.

However, it has since reopened and police have been deployed in the area to monitor the situation.

"We are hoping that peace will be restored and the area is under 24-hour surveillance." said Radebe.

She said that investigations are underway and did not rule out the possibility of more arrests.

Ukhahlamba Municipality Mayor Vika Mlotshwa said the situation has returned to normal in the area.

"People are back at their homes and are walking freely from either side of the camps."

He said that after several meetings with leaders from either side, calm was restored.

"It is good that the police have arrested those who were involved."

He said there are ongoing talks among the chief indunas to resolve the boundary issue. Another meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow and a neutral venue has been chosen to avoid further disputes.

"We have chosen the border in question as a neutral meeting point."

Mlotshwa said KZN MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, Bheki Cele and Mtholephi Mthimkhulu will attend tomorrow’s meeting.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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