Visitors alerted after Berg murder

2008-03-13 00:00

Tensions between two communities near Didima Camp at Cathedral Peak have led to the ambush and murder of a staff member employed by the catering company there.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has reacted by informing visitors to Didima of the tensions and advised caution.

The tensions have arisen over ongoing land disputes in the area, with one community allegedly claiming that the other has encroached on their land.

Waiter Happy Mabaso (aged around 30) was ambushed on his way home on Tuesday and shot dead. Sources said that he was allegedly living on land belonging to an opposing clan.

A notice was posted on the Ezemvelo website yesterday informing visitors to the camp of the tense situation.

CEO Khulani Mkhize told The Witness that the organisation is addressing the issue at the highest levels and police are patrolling the route.

"All visitors are advised to drive with caution on the road between Bergville/Winterton and Cathedral Peak," he said.

However, local people have allegedly indicated that their conflict is not with tourists.

Captain Charmaine Struwig said the conflict between the Magangangozi and Mhlwazini communities in Bergville is alleged to have started several years ago after houses were built by the Magangangozi community along a boundary that the Mhlwazini community claim belongs to them.

The Magangangozi claimed that they had permission to build there but the Mhlwazini disputed this.

Struwig said after the murder of a leader from the Magangangozi community during 2007, the relationship between the two communities worsened and although Bergville police initiated a meeting to try and resolve the tensions, more murders followed.

A suspect was arrested for murder and attempted murder in March and released on bail.

Two days later, he and his brother were murdered. Two more murders, one from each clan, followed, one in Benoni.

"Arrangements are under way to beef up police numbers in the area and initiate a plan of action to bring immediate and lasting calm to the area for both the community and the tourists expected in the area during the coming holiday season," said Struwig.

According to sources, the dispute over land between the Mhlwazini and Maganganuzi factions dates back to the late 1980s.

Allegations have been voiced that a lack of leadership resulted in the continuation of the dispute.

Sources said Mabaso had to cross the land of the opposing community on his way home.

Word allegedly got out that he was on the road and the ambush was set. He was allegedly shot eight times and kicked for good measure. It is believed the attack occurred over five kilometres outside the Didima camp gates.

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