An inquest docket has been opened after angry community members torched a sugarcane field, a tool shed and the house of a farmer, who they allege forced a man to jump into the Msunduzi River in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal.
According to the police, events started on Sunday when workers on the farm reported seeing five unknown people in the sugarcane field about midday.
It is alleged that, while investigating, the farm owner and security personnel saw one unknown person jump into the river.
The farmer apparently jumped into the river in an attempt to save the unknown male, but was unable to find him.
Rescue team dispatched
He informed KwaMbonambi SAPS as he was unsure if the person had drowned or had managed to get to safety.
The Empangeni Search and Rescue Unit and K9 Unit were dispatched to the area.
“Police officers launched their vessel and, on arrival at the scene, they were informed that the community entered the river and recovered the victim,” police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said. The 29-year-old man had drowned.
According to Mbele, the community had been advised not to enter the river, due to the presence of hippos and crocodiles, but ignored the advice.
The police found a homemade raft and a gill net in the river.
Malicious damage to property
Following the discovery of the man’s body, the community set fire to the sugarcane field and parts of the farmer’s property, including his home, as they blamed him for the incident.
“An inquest docket and malicious damage to property case was opened at the KwaMbonambi police station for investigation,” said Mbele.