May 05 2008 at 08:18AM
By Jeff Wicks
The death of a KwaZulu-Natal farmer, who was shot dead while driving towards his home on Thursday night, has raised fears of land-claims-related violence in the area.
A police spokesperson, Superintendent Zandra Wiid, said the incident happened at Nqabeni, near Harding, as Winston Fynn drove home.
"The shooting took place at approximately 6pm... An unknown number of assailants shot at his vehicle and he was struck once in the upper thigh."
"He continued to drive to his farm house, where he later died... At this stage the detectives cannot reveal the suspected motive for the attack, and to date no arrests have been made."
Wiid would not be drawn on whether the attack was related to land claims.
Many farmers in the Nqabeni area, which is between Harding and Izingolweni, have allegedly been victims of violence and intimidation linked to land claims on their farms.
According to a police report on land invasions in the Nqabeni area, there has been significant squatter encroachment on farmland.
The report tells of farmers' attempts to legally evict squatters.
"When the local sheriff attempted to move the squatters he was shot at, and that was the end of his attempt to move them."
KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas questioned whether the attacks were aimed at driving farmers off their land.
"Fynn said he was experiencing problems with the illegal occupants in terms of lack of control over cattle, damage to crops and implications over sustainable land usage."
"The murder of Fynn should not be seen in isolation. Recently Mr and Mrs Baker, who also farm in the area, were held at gunpoint and robbed of valuables," said De Haas.
"The police say that land claims issues had not been identified as the motive for the killing, but the facts about the situation in Nqabeni suggest otherwise," she said.
This article was originally published on page 3 of The Mercury on May 05, 2008