Black vs white in spat over ‘tavern’

2018-02-04 06:00

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Nothing could have prepared Senty Nkambule for the endless disputes with his white neighbours.

He bought a smallholding farm outside the Mpumalanga dorpie of Lydenburg two years ago. Within days of starting farming, neighbours’ dogs ate his ducks and bit his sheep. One of the neighbours shot dead his dog.

His neighbours took exception when he built a little resort with chalets and a swimming pool on his property, allegedly turning an area zoned for agriculture into a “tavern”. He allegedly failed to follow the proper channels. City Press has seen affidavits by six of Nkambule’s neighbours, who have applied to the local magistrates’ court for a protection order against him. They claim his customers have threatened their lives. The case will be heard on Friday.

“We feel unsafe in our own properties due to the number of people arriving next door and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. We stay locked up inside ... We can’t use our outside facilities due to the noise and bottles flying over our fences,” Charissa van Rooyen writes in her supporting affidavit. She says there were parties on Nkambule’s property daily between December 22 last year and January 15 this year.

Another neighbour says in their affidavit: “My parents lie at the cemetery around Nkambule’s plot. I cannot visit their graves as it became too dangerous (sic).”

And yet another: “Residents of the plot use and abuse alcohol and this poses a threat to my family, especially my young children, who love to cycle on the dirt roads in the area.”

Nkambule’s problems did not start in December, when his customers from Mashishing and nearby areas descended on his plot for the festive season. He says the threats against his life, livestock and business have not stopped since he moved into the neighbourhood. He claims one of his neighbours told him his horses would be killed for trespassing on their land. One neighbour allegedly told him he had dug a grave to bury him and his workers.

“One neighbour I met at his gate threatened to set his dogs on us (he was with family),” Nkambule told City Press. “Then his dogs ate all my ducks, bit my sheep. He shot my dog and stole another one.”

City Press has an audio recording of one of many altercations Nkambule has had with one of his neighbours about why Nkambule has not put up a proper fence to separate the two plots. The neighbour is heard saying: “I’ve got a firearm. I’ll do the same I did to your dogs, to your horses.”

Nkambule: “I pray to God and ask why I have a neighbour like you.”

Neighbour: “It’s not my job to run after your horses. I’ll take legal action against you, guaranteed.”

Nkambule retorts: “I also have a lawyer.”

Nkambule says one neighbour took a video of his clients and started discharging his firearm, “shooting in the air”.

He says some members of his community intend to stage a solidarity march on Friday, because they believe the neighbours’ court action is motivated by racism.

The tension has spilt over to social media. Residents are venting their frustrations on Facebook and debating what they say is the escalating racism in Mashishing.

In the court application, signed by Van Rooyen, neighbours say Nkambule’s loud music, played over large speakers and amplifiers, can be “heard in the house and by people staying over one kilometre away”.

“I downloaded an app to measure the noise levels. The noise levels in my bedroom, with all windows and doors closed, exceed 85 decibels,” one neighbour’s affidavit reads. They say this stresses their animals and the neighbourhood has been ruined by littered alcohol bottles.

“The tavern has a pit toilet for their patrons. My water comes from an underground source (like all my neighbours) and we are all potentially at risk of having our water supply polluted with raw sewage,” another neighbour’s affidavit reads.

Karen le Roux, the secretary of Potloodspruit Community Policing Forum, denies their complaint is racist.

“We’re also fighting a white guy who established a chrome plant and trucks keep on moving in and out. Let’s leave racism out of this. We live out of town because we choose quiet and peace, but such noisy and polluting businesses are popping up around us,” Le Roux says.

Read more on:    racism

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