Illegal sand-mining activity is allegedly taking place at Davhana village, which has been identified as a contributing factor to the violence that claimed the life of a royal member, the late Vuwani Nesengani. Photo supplied.
By Elmon Tshikudo and Thembi Siaga
The family members of the late Mr Vuwani Ndwamato Nesengani, a member of the Davhana royal family, are still speculating as to who was responsible for his murder. Nesengani was ambushed and killed by an unknown suspect on his farm at Davhana Balanganani village on 8 July this year, while he was busy refuelling his truck.
The suspect was said to have appeared from nowhere. Nesengani was shot at close range and his attacker fled without taking anything. Nesengani was rushed to Tshilidzini Hospital in a critical condition and spent weeks there before succumbing to his injuries on 20 July.
The spokesperson for the police in Limpopo, Lt Col Malesela Ledwaba, confirmed this week that no arrests have been made yet in connection with the murder. He again appealed to anyone with information to contact Lieutenant Colonel Netshaulu at Vuwani SAPS at 082-5657794, or the nearest police station.
During Nesengani’s funeral, which was held at Davhana Balanganani village on 28 July, speakers such as Vhafuwi Vho Livhuwani Matsila called on Vuwani residents to stand up and defend themselves, saying that the Vuwani police were not doing enough to protect the community.
Nesengani’s younger brother, Mr Cassius Ndwamato Nesengani, also expressed his concern about the way the case was being handled by the Vuwani police. “As a family, we are very hopeful that the wheels of justice will start to move now that the case has been assigned to new investigators in Thohoyandou. We hope they will arrest the perpetrators, who will shed light as to why they killed him,” he said.
While the family members and friends are grappling for answers, the accusations are flying. Some believe that Nesengani’s death can be linked to growing tension the past few years in the local community. They believe that illegal sand-mining activities or even an illegal initiation school that sprang up had caused a volatile environment.
The late Nesengani is said to have been very outspoken against alleged illegal conduct. He was allegedly ostracised by the illegal sand miners, among them a local businessman who claimed to have a permit to mine. Upon closer scrutiny, however, the permit was allegedly found to be fraudulent as it allowed the holders, whose names were erased, to mine in the Musina area.
A source close to the family, who preferred anonymity, said tensions had been simmering between the Davhana and Nengwekhulu royal family for some time over who the senior traditional leaders in the area should be. “The situation reached boiling point when the Nengwekhulus applied to set up a circumcision school, which was granted by CoGHSTA. But, instead of setting it up in an area under their own jurisdiction, they set it up in an area under the Davhanas, which caused a further rift as it was illegal. The Davhanas sought relief by approaching CoGHSTA in Vhembe, but the department would not entertain them. The issue was then escalated to the Premier of Limpopo, Mr Stan Mathabatha, and CoGHSTA MEC Basikopo Makamu,” said the source.
The source said that even after the circumcision school had been declared illegal, officials had dragged their feet in closing it down. This caused further tension and cases of intimidation and kidnapping were reported to the Vuwani police.
Another source, who also preferred anonymity, said the village was under siege and was being ruled by fear. “Our area is boiling. You speak out, you become a target. We know of a hit list with names of those perceived to be against the rule of the self-imposed headmen that is circulating in the village,” he said. “We are worried that the local Vuwani Police Station has been captured and is doing nothing to catch these criminals. We must stand up and protect ourselves as a community. Some of the suspects are going around boasting that they will never be arrested and prosecuted as they are well connected. Our government is ignoring our plight,” said the source.
Date:14 October 2023
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.