Times of Eswatini
Funeral in limbo as families in land dispute
PIGG’S PEAK – A family has stopped preparations for the burial of a neighbour’s relative because the land in which the deceased was to be buried is in dispute.
The incident occurred at Hhelehhele area in Pigg’s Peak. Members of the family of the deceased say they are shocked because they have used the piece of land as a graveyard for a long time. However, their neighbours believe the land now belongs to them and they do not want the family to conduct a burial there. The funeral was scheduled to take place this coming weekend.
So serious is the matter that members of the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) have been requested to attend a series of meetings with the parties in dispute, at the area’s umphakatsi. On Monday afternoon, the meeting was attended by Pigg’s Peak Police Station Commander Dumisani Nzalo.
According to sources close to the matter, the family that wants to bury their relative has always owned the piece of land and they have always buried deceased family members on it, but decided to relocate to another land a few years ago.
Sources claim the neighbouring family man was temporarily granted the piece of land on the basis that he would run a business. Hhelehhele Indvuna Prophet Sibandze confirmed that they were dealing with the complex situation and were trying to mediate between the two families.
According to Sibandze, a certain member of the family, which was preventing the burial, still needed to be convinced about the realities in the issue. “He was just given a piece of land next to the other family’s graveyard by the umphakatsi, to run a local retail shop, as per his request, on a temporary basis. He then fenced the area covering the neighbour’s graveyard, which was wrong. The family that wants to bury their deceased relative has always been owners of the land and they have other family graves on that piece of land,” said the indvuna.
“Tindzala tabo, loosely translated as, “It’s their ancestral land,” said Sibandze. Hhelehhele is under newly-installed Chief, Umtfwanekhosi Ndlaludzaka II.
Indvuna Sibandze, together with the Hhelehhele Inner Council (Bandlancane) yesterday approached the Pigg’s Peak Magistrates Court seeking a court order compelling the family, which refused their neighbours the right to bury their deceased member, to allow the funeral to go ahead this coming weekend. They argued that they were the rightful owners of the piece of land and had for years been using it as a family graveyard.
According to the indvuna, the courtsyesterday informed the council to use its vested lawful umphakatsi, authority, to force the family contesting the burial to oblige. “The court advised that we write an official umphakatsi letter and serve the opposing family leader to force them to oblige to our pleas,” said the indvuna.
According to Sibandze, the family challenging the burial of the deceased had never been honest in that they allegedly accused the umphakatsi of burying a deceased person in the same disputed land a few years ago. The indvuna said the matter had to be resolved by the Ludzidzini Royal Council, where the family was ordered to pay a cow as a fine, which had not happened yet. As per the recommendation of the court, Sibandze said they will be serving the family, which is challenging the burial, with the letter, most likely today.
Meanwhile, in a similar incident that was finally resolved by the courts, in 2011, two families were fighting over the burial place of a relative. The dispute had intensified after an argument that the husband to the deceased had the right to choose where his wife was to be buried and his brother-in-law was refusing to hand over documents from Dups Funeral Home Services to him.