Mthembu attended a meeting between the community of Sgedlana in Kranskop and farmer Carl Gathmann, who they accuse of desecrating graves. Last week, the community went on a rampage setting fire to farm property, including to Gathmann’s farm manager’s house and fields. They also blocked the R74 road.
A meeting was held between Gathmann, the police and community representatives at the Kranskop police station, and another meeting between Mthembu and the community.
“That meeting was highly charged, the community do not want the farmer in that area. They even chased out the police station commander, saying he never registers their complaints,” said Mthembu.
“We had to plead with the community not to take the law into their own hands. We cannot allow for a situation where we create a problem on top of a problem. I told the residents to use the government to deal with that issue,” he said.
Community leader Skhumbuzo Zondi said that during their meeting with Gathmann, the farmer said if there was a violation of the law it must be investigated, and if he did something wrong, he must be arrested.
Zondi insisted that the graves had been dug up: “The bones are clearly visible, if the person who did this was black, he would have been arrested.”
He said the community agreed to give the government a month to resolve the matter.
Attempts to reach Gathmann were unsuccessful but he has previously denied violating graves and said the allegations were an attempt to force him off the land.