The Dlamini family have, for
as long as memory, lived in a valley on a farm near Dalton. When Mrs Dlamini,
the wife of the household head, died earlier this year, the family requested
permission to bury her in the family’s graves but were refused. They went to the
Land Claims Court but lost the case because the graves, visible across the
field, are now different farm despite the absense of a fence. After 13 weeks of
being in a mortuary, Mrs Dlamini was buried in the Dalton cemetery.
I was born here; my home homestead is below here by that stream. We were
moved from across the hill over there by the boers and we were brought here. We
came in 1974; when I think in terms of years it is 31 years. My father died here
next to that big tree, this big tree in between the fields. My mother also died
there, my sister’s children died there, my one child died there too.
The thing that became a problem is that when my wife passed away, the
farm owner told us that we cannot bury her here. That became a problem for us
because our other family members’ graves are here. Here we had just buried my
grandchild, in 2002.
What do we do today?
There was a neighbour who came and built here close. A child passed away
in his family in 2003 and he buried the child here. But now when it’s me I don’t
get a place to bury my family. The law says that if there are graves in close
proximity to the homestead, I should be able to bury in those graves.
The Zulu custom says that you should be buried in your home graves - you
must not get separated from your home graves. That worries me a lot because our
great-grandfathers home graves stay together and when you go to the ancestors,
you go and speak with them jointly. But if there is no one here, who do I speak
This is the first time we haven’t been able to bury on this farm. It has
always been that when a person dies he gets buried in your yard. This is home
here, this is my kraal. When I die, I must get buried here as it’s home.
I think the reason why we can’t bury our family here is that there was a
quarrel with the farm owner. The workers wanted their payment on the third day
of August. The farm owner said to the workers that he received a letter from the
bank that said he cannot pay the workers now. I said to him that he should help
us because now we are hungry, the month has ended, this is the sixth week - are
we going to get paid on the seventh week? I said he must give us the letter so
that we can go to the court to find out if this is the law. We are being
starved. So it started there. It started there and carried on. He then stopped
me from working, taking me out of work because I spoke on behalf of my
colleagues, the workers. This has really hurt us very badly because even now as
I am speaking my family is not well. I am also not well.
And my wife has stayed for a long time without being buried. It has been
two months. I’m supposed to try and find a place for us to bury her instead of
her rotting in the mortuary.
Staying here is going to be dangerous as time goes on because we won’t
know what he is thinking about us. Maybe tomorrow you’ll find that people will
arrive and shoot us, finishing this family.
I was told to go to Pietermaritzburg and there I met a lawyer, who
handled my case of being dismissed from work. The court found in my favour and
my lawyer said that we should meet to discuss compensation. I said that I want
R15 000 fbecause I don’t know why I was dismissed from work. The farmer should
give me money to buy food because we don’t have any.
During that time, the farmer told me that I have to vacate the farm. So
my lawyer took the matter to AFRA. We then received letters that my cattle had
been impounded by the farm owner and that there was no food. The farm owner
lodged a case about the cattle - he said that there was an agreement that I
should keep only eight cattle. He said that I kept more than eight cattle. The
agreement he is talking about - I do not know that agreement. When we were in
court, the magistrate said: “In my view is that you, Dlamini, should remove the
other cattle and keep the eight cattle that the landowner is talking about. You
should look for a place where you are going to keep the others and if you should
you not find such a place, you should sell them, take your money and keep it in
After that, the farm owner kept on coming and harassing me with letters.
We just waited for the time being.
To my surprise, the sheriff came and he said to me: “Dlamini, I have to
ask how many cows you are keeping here.” And he told me that he had been sent by
the court. He had a letter that said I had to pay R14 000 and some cents. I
asked him what the money was for and he said that I lost the court case. He
said: “The court has sent me to take away your cows.” I asked him how this could
be because I have lawyers and they have not informed me of this. And he said,
“You see, maybe the lawyer reads the letter and puts it away. Lawyers can be
He said that if I did not sign the letter, he will make a phone call and
my cows will be taken away. But I said that my lawyers had said that if the
farmowner had something to say, he should not come to me, he should speak to my
lawyer. I told him to give me the letter so I could take it to my lawyers and
hear from them. He refused and told me to sign the letter and I ended up signing
it. I told my lawyer about the letter. We then gave it to the magistrate. He
said that he would look at all the other documents and gather them together. He
said that he didn’t know anything about it but that there were a lot of people
who worked there and maybe one of them wrote the letter.
My wife has now been buried at Ozwathini, a municipal cemetery. I am
still waiting to hear what will happen about my cattle.
of Mzokufa Dlamini
This government’s law took my mother and treated her like a dog. When a
car on the road hits a dog, it stays there, just like our mother. Her bones can
fly everywhere, with nobody to pick them up. Whereas we are here, she is there
at Ozwathini. We are required to pay a visit to the graves. So expenses are
being created because we have to travel in order to get to Ozwathini. At graves
like those, another person might be buried on top of the other. We would hope to
speak to our mother and we find that we are speaking with another person.
Our whole lives are thrown away in terms of rights to residence and land.
The whites are being allowed to oppress us. The government is on the side of the
whites; maybe they eat well from their side. There is a great pumping force in
my heart because my mother has been thrown away.
Our rights are still being oppressed. The boers or whites say that even
if one has just delivered a child, that you should leave the child and go and
work. That is not right. We carry timber on our heads and we are females and all
they say is it’s because we have equal rights. We don’t see the rights but what
is a rock being put on our heads by the boers.