Farmers hit hard by four-day protest

2014-09-25 00:00

FARMERS in Kranskop and surrounds are feeling the pinch from the four-day long service delivery protest, following the closure of the R74.

The protest has turned violent with the burning of three trucks, and have severely affected the Maphumulo, Kranskop and Stanger areas.

The angry community is complaining mostly about the lack of housing and water delivery in their areas.

Kranskop farmer Geoff Jeff said the road has been closed since Sunday, and remained closed yesterday.

He said in the Ashwill area tree trucks were set alight. “We as farmers in the Kranskop area have not been able to get sugarcane and timber to the mills,” he said.

Jeff said land reform farmers have been hit hard by the protest, adding that if this continued, they will be forced to retrench some workers because “it is of no use cutting sugarcane if it can’t be delivered to the mill”.

The KZN Agricultural union’s Koos Marais said they were most concerned that a few people can hold a whole economy to ransom.

“This should be deemed sabotage,” he said.

Marais said the protest will have serious consequences, as tons of farm produce will be left to rot.

Political leaders are failing to fix the problem, he said, and called on government to intervene.

“We accept the community has a problem that should be attended to, but they should also understand that there are others suffering the consequences of their deeds.”

KwaDukuza Municipality spokesperson Sifiso Zulu said the protesting residents only became part of their council in 2011. Before then they were part of the iNdwedwe Municipality.

“We have been in the process of getting Rural Development to buy the farm lands so that we could build houses for people,” he said.

Zulu said they could not deliver such services before because it was private property. “We have now bought the land and have applied to Human Settlement for funds to build,” he said.

Zulu said this was explained to residents, but they have chosen to continue with the protest.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said it was reported that on September 8, the KwaDukuza mayor, Ricardo Mthembu, had a meeting with residents and had promised to return with a feedback on September 21. “When he addressed the community members some of them were not satisfied and they left the meeting.”

Zwane said about 100 residents remained.“They blocked road R74 with burning tyres, trees and stones, they also burned two sugarcane trucks belonging to GR Trucking,” he said.

Fifteen suspects were arrested on Monday in the area.

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