Ma­raud­ing impi de­stroys five fields of fresh mealies

Observer on Saturday - - News - By Ackel Zwane

Eight man have been charged for de­stroy­ing five fields of maize at Mgan­wini near Luve on Christ­mas Eve in a fam­ily feud that has gone ter­ri­bly sour.

Fononoza Vi­lakati claims to be a vic­tim of the at­tack for re­claim­ing the fields that right­fully be­long to his fam­ily af­ter these had been in use by the at­tack­ers for several years.

Iron­i­cally, there had been no ar­rests and Fononoza fears that he might even be tempted to pro­tect him­self from his cousins or launch a coun­ter­at­tack to de­stroy their fields if no ar­rests are made.

How­ever, Chief Po­lice In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Of­fi­cer Su­per­in­ten­dent Khu­lani Mamba says charges have been laid on the eight at­tack­ers and po­lice were await­ing for an eval­u­a­tion of the ex­tent of the dam­age from ex­perts from the min­istry of agri­cul­ture be­fore fur­ther ac­tion could be taken such as tak­ing the mat­ter to court.

The ex­perts were ex­pected to have con­ducted the eval­u­a­tion by the af­ter­noon of Thurs­day.

It was early on Christ­mas Eve, at around 6am, that Fononoza re­ceived a call from Mliba po­lice that he was needed for a re­union meet­ing to iron out dif­fer­ences with rel­a­tives. How­ever ,when he was pre­par­ing to heed to the po­lice sum­mons, the group of eight or so men armed with bush knives and slash­ers passed by his gate in a very threat­en­ing mood to­wards the fields fur­ther down. Fononoza pro­ceeded to Mliba but on ar­rival he was told his cousins had left to look for some­thing to eat in the nearby shops. How­ever , Fononoza told the cops that he doubted their ex­pla­na­tion be­cause he had seen them in a rather weird mood tak­ing the di­rec­tion of the dis­puted fields when he was com­ing to the sta­tion. The po­lice al­legedly made another call and were told that Fononoza’s sib­lings were still en­joy­ing a dose of sour por­ridge, in­cwancwa. Time passed and they were not re­turn­ing to the sta­tion and then Fononoza de­cided to re­turn to his home but on the turn at the road­side to his home he met a neigh­bour who ad­vised him that he and his cousins were play­ing dan­ger­ous games of de­stroy­ing such promis­ing maize plants at a time when not only Swazi­land but the whole world was wail­ing about hunger. His fears were con­firmed that in­deed his cousins were armed to de­stroy his en­tire crop in the dis­puted fields.

Fononoza then re­turned to the sta­tion to record a state­ment de­tail­ing the ex­tent of the dam­age but said he was told no im­me­di­ate ac­tion would be taken un­til there was a pro­fes­sional eval­u­a­tion of the ex­tent of the dam­age, leav­ing him won­der­ing what that meant be­cause al­ready an of­fence had been com­mit­ted yet the cul­prits were left to roam freely in a threat­en­ing mood to strike again. Also be­cause un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stance it is the courts that com­mis­sion an eval­u­a­tion to es­tab­lish the de­gree of dam­age such as send­ing a vic­tim to the doc­tors to eval­u­ate the de­gree of in­jury while on the other hand po­lice ef­fect an ar­rest.

Back at Mgan­wini Fononoza says he has al­ready re­ported to lo­cal tra­di­tional struc­tures who are await­ing the com­ple­tion of the course of jus­tice which in­volves the courts be­fore tak­ing up the mat­ter tra­di­tion­ally especially be­cause by Swazi Law and Cus­tom, which gov­erns co­ex­is­tence on Swazi na­tion land, even an evicted per­son is al­lowed their har­vest be­fore be­ing sent away from an area. The de­struc­tion of food crops and dwelling struc­tures is a very se­ri­ous of­fence that bor­ders on in­hu­man­ity.

While the ac­cused side could not be reached for com­ment as they were re­ported away save for an el­derly woman tend­ing the fields. Fononoza says un­til Thurs­day there had been no fur­ther at­tacks on his prop­erty which he in­her­ited from his fa­ther Skafu. When Skafu passed on the fields were looked af­ter by the at­tack­ers who how­ever this year they were ap­proached that since Fononoza had come of age he was re­claim­ing them. All along the at­tack­ing cousin’s fa­ther had been re­spon­si­ble for the prop­erty of his brother Skafu with the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of hand­ing them back to his chil­dren each time they wanted to make use of them.

Tracts

Fononoza’s at­tack­ers are said to be reck­oned with in the area and are boast­ful that no one can ar­rest them since they have also taken back large tracts of land from other rel­a­tives. They have also taken ad­van­tage of the lack­lus­tre tra­di­tional con­trol in Kut­sim­leni in that there is no reign­ing chief since the death of Maloyi over 40 years ago. The weak struc­tures lack ef­fec­tive­ness in try­ing cases of il­le­gal re­set­tle­ment of peo­ple on oth­ers’ prop­er­ties and the usurp­ing of fields be­long­ing to weaker house­holds. To add salt to in­jury in the case of Fononoza is that his man­sion of in­sur­mount­able size near­ing com­ple­tion and noth­ing com­pa­ra­ble to it for miles around, a land­mark that has sparked envy and jeal­ousy among cousins who spent their life­time in South Africa to re­turn home to con­struct hov­els that are no match even to Fononoza’s tools shed.

DE­STRUC­TION:Fononoza Vi­lakati in­ter­viewed by Ackel Zwane.

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