Grandson dispels mystery of farm graves

2015-03-19 14:37

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Jeff Wicks, The Witness

Durban - The closest living relative of Walter Lindsay - the former owner of a South Coast farm on which a mass burial site was discovered - says that far from the evil man his grandfather is being made out to have been, he was of immense help to surrounding communities.

The secluded gravesite on the Glenroy sugarcane farm, now owned by Illovo Sugar, was discovered last year, apparently after a local sangoma received premonitions of spirits that linger there.

The burial ground was thrust to the fore last week when a memorandum was presented to KwaZuluNatal’s executive council, informing it of the discovery.


The Witness traced Lindsay’s grandson, Gary, who spoke strongly in defence of his grandfather.

“My grandfather was a giving man and he was well respected in the community. Even after I had taken over the farm during the heaviest of faction fighting in the eighties, he would feed and house people who were displaced by the political violence. When these families fled the fighting, they would come to us. My grandfather would even go and fetch them in a truck,” he said.

“I remember that the prisoners who used to work on the farm were petty criminals who were arrested in the city. From what I can recall, they were guys who had been caught without a dompas or who were drunk in public, and then they were sent to work on our farm for a week and then taken back to the prison,” he said.

“There were never any political prisoners on our land; they were simply guys who had been convicted of minor crimes,” Lindsay added.

He dispelled claims of abuse on the farm. “It was never a prison camp or anything like that. Some of my earliest memories are of playing on the farm and the prisoners were there with our usual workers. I remember running around with my sister in the fields there.”

Gravesite not a secret

He said that the gravesite was never hidden and that its recent “discovery” has been overstated.

“There was a gravesite on the farm, but it was never a secret; everyone knew where it was. As children, the place was off-limits to us and I am not sure if it was where the prisoners were buried or just people who lived nearby. It is not some gruesome trove of bodies; everyone there knew about it.

“My father once told me that he and my grandfather would pick up the prisoners in a truck and some of them were hell-bent on escaping. The moment the truck would stop at an intersection, some of the men would leap off the back and make a run for it. They were never shackled or chained,” he said.

“All I can say is what was relayed to me by my father. Sadly, the only ones who can really recount any proper details about what the situation was on the farm are not with us anymore.”

Provincial government spokesperson Thamsanqa Ngwenya said that all disclosures about the gravesite by the state were being carefully managed.

“It was concluded that this was an extremely sensitive matter, given the unfortunate history of our country. In this regard, all due care and consideration of any potential publicity this matter would attract, was considered,” he said.

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