The owner of the farm where Kenneth Eva was murdered some weeks ago has denied allegations that he has now banned children from the neighbouring tribal community from attending the farm school on his land.
Businessman Mark Chennells, who owns the citrus and banana New Venture Farm (NVF) in Nkwalini, KwaZulu-Natal, where Eva was beaten to death by angry members of the nearby eSibhonsweni tribal community over a boundary dispute, told Farmer’s Weekly he originally built the school on his farm to educate his employees’ children. “I then heard that children from the tribal area were also attending the school, but I have never stopped them from attending,”
Chennells explained. “Although since Ken’s death I have been advised to consider closing the school to the community’s children in order to improve security on my farm, I have not yet made a decision on the matter. I haven’t even spoken to the principal of the school yet. I think the children are staying away because their parents have told them to.” However, the induna of eSibhonsweni, Mhlangabezeni Zulu, said Chennells has chased the children from the school since Eva’s death in January.
“Since the day schools opened this year, our children have been having their classes under some trees in the community. Mr Chennells has told us to go and find a place to build our own school,” he said.
Zulu said when his community wanted to build a school on a piece of their land in 2005, they were told by the KZN Department of Traditional and Local Government Affairs that the land belonged to Chennells. “We disagree with what Traditional Affairs says, but we now still have to wait for the Department of Land Affairs (DLA ) to prove that the land belongs to us,” Zulu said angrily. Acting provincial chief director of the KZN DLA , Vela Mngwengwe, reiterated his department would soon send a surveyor to determine the true boundary between NVF and the communal land, and added that since Eva’s death, he had visited both Chennells and the eSibhonsweni community to confirm they would both accept the final boundary determination.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Muzi Ngomezulu said no arrests had yet been made in the case. – Lloyd Phillips