The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Farmers face land threat in Africa

Durban, Nov. 17 (PTI): Indian farmers in South Africa have complained of being forced out of their lands through burglaries, crop destruction, farm attacks and car thefts.

Farmers in Kwazulu-Natal and Asheville near Kwadukuza, about 70km north of the capital, are among those who have been abandoning their lands after coming under attack from people who want to take over the lands.

The Asheville farmers are the latest group of Indian farmers along the north coast who have been deserting their farms at Inanda, Nonoti, New Glascow, New Guelderland and other rural areas to resettle in towns and cities.

Indian farmers have come under increasing pressures after the 1994 non-racial elections when local Africans began to encroach onto their lands by building tin shanties.

The situation began escalating a few years ago after President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe began to rid white farmers from his country.

One of the farmers affected at Asheville, Errol Dhaniram, said, out of a thriving community of 30 families, now only three remained in the area.

He is also preparing to move out of his land, which has been his family’s possession for the past 60 years, after his sugar cane crop was set alight and other farm crops were destroyed.

”I sleep from 7pm to 10pm. I then get up and stay awake until the early hours of the morning listening out for any suspicious noises. We can't continue to live this way”, he said.

dhaniram said land invaders were determined to drive out the remaining indian families in the area.

”My family heritage is being slowly destroyed and i feel helpless”, said rabindranath andhee, a vegetable farmer.

”I will be devastated if i am forced to leave the home where i grew up.”

At inanda, near verulam, also on the north coast, the few remaining families are coming under increasing pressure from criminals and thugs.

Lalitha naicker, who runs a vegetable and sugar farm, said the situation had reached such a serious state that she had decided to move out and re-settle in verulam.

”Recently four men came to our gate demanding the van that we use for our work. They have become very brazen and are not afraid of the police”, she said.

She said the few families that remained in the area had to be on the guard round the clock.

A spokesperson for the police in kwazulu-natal, vishnu naidoo, said they were treating all incidents on farms as criminal acts and would take appropriate steps to deal with attacks.

He said special task forces were established to deal with criminal acts affecting farmers.

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