The hut that was burnt down. Photos supplied.
The death of a headman from Madobi village has sparked turmoil and resulted in at least two houses’ being burnt down by angry community members. The headman allegedly committed suicide last Tuesday after being informed that he was to be removed as traditional leader.
Headman Richard Jaji Mdavula had been involved in a tussle with the Madobi Royal Family for some time. The Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (CoGHSTA) was asked to investigate. The Office of the Premier subsequently wrote a letter to Mdavula, requesting him to make a representation and supply reasons as to why he should not be removed as headman. He had four months to do this.
A letter sent to the headman, dated 25 August 2020, states that he failed to make any representations. The Premier thus requested CoGHSTA to set the process in motion to have him removed as headman. Mdavula was informed that he would be removed, in accordance with the request of the Madobi royal family.
Residents of Madobi village, who supported Mdavula as their headman, believe the letter from CoGHSTA contributed to his death. Mdavula apparently hanged himself. The funeral took place last Friday at the village.
The death of the headman did not go down well with a faction of the community, who seemingly believe that other factors, such as witchcraft, are also at play. On Saturday, angry residents created havoc, blocking roads with rubble and burning tyres.
The crowd also vented their anger on two residents, whom they accused of being responsible for the death. Two houses were destroyed after being set alight.
A source close to the situation, who preferred anonymity, said that residents had become agitated because they believed that the police were not acting on the information supplied by residents about potential suspects in the death of the chief. The source further said that those implicated had been warned to vacate their homes, but they decided not to leave. This is said to have angered the residents, who decided to take the law into their own hands.
“We begged them to leave our village or face the consequences, but they decided otherwise. They deserve what they got. People are angry and it is only luck that no one was killed during the two incidents,” the source said.
The unfortunate victims of the violence had to flee their homes. One of the victims, Mr William Maluleke, described how he and his family had to rush to escape the fire that engulfed their house. “I felt like I was dreaming while I watched helplessly,” he said. “I am now appealing to any good Samaritan to come and assist me. What I want is to have a roof over my head.”
He said that all his belongings had been burnt inside the house, which included clothes, blankets, and food. “The little food I had for my family was also destroyed by the fire. I really do not know what to do,” he said.
The past week, schools were closed and the police and the SANDF were monitoring the area.
The police’s spokesperson, Brig Motlafela Mojapelo, sent a stern warning to residents not to take the law into their own hands. “Taking the law into one's own hands is an offence on its own, and those involved will themselves face criminal charges. We urge our communities to refrain from such practices as many people are becoming victims,” he said.
Date:25 September 2020 - By: Kaizer Nengovhela
Kaizer Nengovhela started writing stories for Limpopo Mirror more than a decade ago, in 2 000. Prior to that he had a five year stint at Phala-Phala FM as sports presenter. In 2005 Kaizer received an award from the province's premier as Best Sports Presenter. The same year he was also nominated as Best Sports Reporter by the Makhado Municipality. Kaizer was awarded the Mathatha Tsedu award in 2014.