Friday 2022-08-12

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HALL IN CHIEF GASA’S HOME TORCHED

By ANDILE NSIBANDE | 2022-08-06

A community hall located in one of the royal kraals belonging to Lavumisa Chief  Gasa waNgwane was torched amid reports that hitmen have been hired to assassinate the traditional leader.

The incident happened last Friday at Ekuthuleni Royal Kraal, which is located around KaMngayi, following a shooting earlier on during the same day.

Witnesses said unknown motorists stormed the venue of a scheduled meeting, where the community was expecting to discuss the escalating crime around KaMngayi.

The meeting was supposed to be attended by senior officers from the nearby Hluti Police Station, but it was later cancelled after the station commander cited other commitments.

An eye witness narrated that multiple gunshots rang out from a  vehicle which drove into the venue shortly before the gathering could disperse. He mentioned that no one was injured during the dramatic incident that left many residents terrified.

Then a few hours later it was reported that the community hall, which is used to host meetings at the royal kraal, had been set alight.

The fire broke out on Friday night, making the community hall unusable for the residents of KaMngayi who pay allegiance to the chief.

Community members who responded to the blaze found the community hall engulfed in flames.

No one was inside the hall at the time of the fire. Residents who heard the commotion could do little to extinguish the fire because of the intensity of the heat. The fire incident was confirmed by Headman Henry Mamba, who said everything that was inside the hall was destroyed.

He said the motive of the burning of the royal kraal structure remains unknown. “No one knows why the hall was targeted but the fire followed another frightening incident where unknown gunmen fired shots at a meeting venue earlier during the day. The hall was completely destroyed and nothing could be salvaged from the building,” he said.

Signs

Mamba said there were signs of a break-in while investigators who were dispatched to the scene found an indication that a petrol bomb may have been used to set the hall ablaze.

He said considerable damage was made to the roof, making the hall unusable in the approaching future.

The community hall was described as the centre of activity for the residents under Ekuthuleni Umphakatsi. Mamba said it was where the residents discussed community projects, including the proposed construction of Mpakeni Dam.

The headman said the impact of the arson attack would be mostly felt by residents, who used the community hall for various gatherings. He said it would take the community a long time to rebuild the hall.

“It’s a big setback for the community. The structure was used by residents to hold important meetings. It is the same hall we were using whenever we were visited by the ESWADE people who are behind the proposed development which includes the construction of Mpakeni Dam. It will cost the community dearly to reconstruct the hall,” lamented Mamba.

The devastating fire came at a time when there were reports of attempts to the life of the traditional leader of the area.

Vimbizubuko Headman Mzingeli Phakathi shocked residents from his chiefdom recently when he reported that there was a plot to kill the chief.

He said South African hitmen had allegedly been hired to carry out the plot to take away the chief’s life.

 The plot to murder the traditional leader was disclosed to residents during a meeting that was convened by the headman at the instance of the chief, who wanted answers on why he was not wanted by the people of the area. Apparently, the chief had been making consultative visits in all his 12 chiefdoms.

It is understood that he managed to make stopover visits to most of the chiefdoms, save for the royal kraal situated at Vimbizubuko, after he received reports that he was not welcome to set his feet in the area.

The chief is also understood to have heard that there were certain South African nationals who were working on the orders of some residents on a plot to take away his life.

He was later to tell his headman that the South Africans were part of a group that had been hired to carry out the murder.

He then asked the headman to convene a meeting in order to suss out if the claims about the supposed hitmen had any iota of truth. Another purpose of the meeting was to investigate why the residents were unhappy about the chief or his intended visit. However, the report ignited mixed reactions from residents.

While some residents appeared to sympathise with the chief, others took the reports with a pinch of salt.

The chief of Lavumisa, whose traditional headquarters is located at Qomintaba, is currently living away from his area, after arsonists set his royal kraal alight sometime around 2021. This was at around the time of the unrest that besieged the country in June. As a result, the traditional leader was left with no place of abode.

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