Fear haunts villagers after eight die in faction fight

Zukile Majova

“If you are visiting any household in this village, I advise that you get out of here before sunset or else…”

This is the chilling warning from a villager while trying to access Mpheni village and Nokhatshile village, outside Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape.

The two villages have been fighting over taxi routes for the past two years. Numerous houses and vehicles have been torched, some residents forced to abandon their homes and over a dozen people killed since 2019.

And now the cops are closing in. 

The latest incident was on Christmas day, where 10 men from Mpheni village attacked Nokhatshile village and killed eight people, leaving six others fighting for their lives.

The gruesome incident which involved guns, machete and other traditional weapons left villagers so shocked that they have taken to sleeping in bushes and caves at night.

People of Mpheni village are expecting a revenge attack any day now. 

A villager told us the government failed to intervene at the very beginning of the faction fight.

“The main reason for this is who between minibus taxis and bakkie operators should be carrying villagers to and from town.

“Bakkie operators say minibus taxi routes exist only on tarred roads and bakkies operate on gravel roads.

“But because there has been so much bloodshed, the animosity is no longer about routes only.

“Those who lost brothers in the last attack are probably planning an attack of their own.”

Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga, led a big manhunt into mountains that generally form a picturesque backdrop to these villages but are now battlefields.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said: “All forces are on the ground in search of other suspects believed to have been involved in the fierce fighting between the two groups.” 

Scrolla.Africa has learned that a team of top detectives has arrested almost 10 people. 

On Friday they went as far as Limpopo and arrested a man believed to be the weapons supplier and mastermind in the faction fighting.