Monday, December 28, 2009

Toddler Murder and Land Invasions: Another Christmas in South Africa

Toddler's mutilated body found

Welkom - The badly mutilated body of a 3-year-old toddler was found on Saturday, just hours after she was reported missing to Thabong police, a Free State police spokesperson said.

The little girl, Onele Galata, went missing on Christmas day and was reported missing on Saturday morning, said Inspector Malebo Khosana.

"She was found dead at B-Hostel in Masole Street at noon today [Saturday]. She had multiple stab wounds to her right eye, right side of the mouth, over the left ear, chin, neck, right ribs and middle chest," said Khosana.

The girl's private parts were also removed. "The intestines were also protruding out of her body."

Her body was taken to the Welkom State Mortuary.

No arrests were made, said Khosana.

Anyone with information that could assist with arresting the toddler's murderer was urged to contact Superintendent Kedibone Gopane on 082-442-1372 or 086-001-0111.



Land grabbers sent packing... in their 4x4s

A land grab by local residents and some well-heeled out-of-towners in Estcourt on Christmas Day and the Day of Goodwill was defused peacefully on Sunday.

The municipal property again became available for an upmarket housing development amid claims of political favouritism.

Municipal workers from the IFP-led Umtshezi municipality, under the watchful eye of the public order policing unit, succeeded in demolishing the shacks that had mushroomed since Friday.

The illegal occupiers were persuaded to disperse peacefully, under threat of arrest for trespassing.

Authorities said that about 2 000 people had descended on Brewitt Park from Friday to stake a claim to the prime municipal land earmarked for an upmarket housing development.

As the rumour of a free Christmas bonanza spread, more people, including some from as far as Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay, joined the influx.

Others followed as the grapevine worked overtime amid media reports of "Zimbabwe-style land invasions".

Some land seekers arrived in luxury vehicles, including BMWs, Audis and 4x4s with out-of-town registration numbers, to stake their claims.

A few were spotted wearing ANC T-shirts and caps, leading rival politicians to claim the ruling party was behind the land grab. However, the ANC distanced itself from the action.

Municipal manager Nonhlanhla Njoko said the invaders refused to divulge who they were and why they had claimed the land.


"Whoever is invading land, we will not allow it. They will be prosecuted," she said.

There was municipal housing and people should apply for this instead of taking the law into their own hands.

Estcourt resident Nosipho Hlongwane said she had heard that free sites were available and she too staked a claim after witnessing a busload of people doing the same.

"I was born and bred here. This is an open space of land, it has never been used. We are in a dilemma; we don't know what is going on."

Hlongwane said she would return tomorrow morning, as the municipality had called a meeting to address those who had occupied the land.

Another local man said those who had staked their claim were not criminals and genuinely believed that free land was available.

But accounts differed as to who was responsible and whether the invasion was an organised one or not.

Some claimed that an unidentified man told churchgoers on Christmas Day that "God has allowed people to go put up things on the land".

Concerned resident David Allen said the invasion seemed to be well-orchestrated as the invaders had arrived at once.

"It was like a millionaires' braai. They also came with graders, bakkies with masonite, spades and pegs to mark the land. It was like a gold rush," Allen said.

DA MP Tom Stokes said he was informed that the invasion had been initiated by members of the ANC, apparently to make a political point.

"It appears that it was a tit-for-tat reaction. Early in the year members of the IFP had grabbed land outside Estcourt," he said.

Local ANC member Tim Jeebodh echoed his provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, who earlier denied that the ANC was behind the land grab.

Jeebodh claimed, however, that ANC supporters were being short-changed.

"Estcourt is a lawless town. There is no rule of law as far as land acquisition goes, and when it comes to housing, most of the time the ANC people get left out and houses are given on a party political basis," he said.

"There is frustration building up from people who might be ANC supporters. There have been several housing developments and in most cases the ordinary beneficiaries who are not card carriers of any political party get left out."

Jeebodh claimed there were two "land grabs" where IFP members were allowed to settle on council land.

IFP Estcourt secretary-general Mthembeni Majola denied the allegations. He added that in Wembezi township, most home owners were ANC members, so it was wrong to say that only members of the IFP benefited. He said the housing allocation process was fair.

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