Ndumo chaos flares up

2010-10-01 00:00

THE department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development has called on the local communities around the Ndumo Game Reserve to refrain from any criminal activities that might jeopardise the process of finding a lasting solution to the problems there.

The warning comes after the communities there allegedly vandalised some parts of it on Monday.

For the past two years, problems in Ndumo have escalated as communities who had registered a land claim and received it on the basis they would not interfere with the game reserve, have invaded it and decimated the vegetation there.

The incident on Monday came barely two weeks after a parliamentary portfolio committee on conservation and environmental affairs visited the area; they were also met with a hostile reception by the locals, who accused the government of not honouring its promises.

A daily newspaper reported that on Monday, police reinforcements had to be called in when a group of local men rampaged, vandalising the area.

It said the men had surrounded the guard post at Pholwe pan and ordered the Ezemvelo KZN wildlife guards to leave as they would return to burn it. They vandalised an outpost and chopped down a swing bridge close to the main tourist camp.

They also damaged the guard camp, perimeter fence smashed the window and chopped water pipes and damaged a radio antennae and a water storage tank.

Ncumisa Mafunda, the department’s spokesperson said the Department and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are working closely with the police to curb any criminal offences in the area.

“The department is in a process of engaging local communities on the matter and the reported criminal activities are a great concern … We will however continue with the process until the matter is successfully resolved.”

Radley Keys DA MPP, called on the police to take action, “so that this criminal element does not gain the upper hand. We also urge the MEC to get a grip on the situation, which has spiralled out of control during the past two years.”

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