The feud turned degenerated into a bloodbath, after it got out of control.
According to report, allegations of infertility have resulted in 16 brutal killings and caused dozens of villagers in Bizana in the rural Eastern Cape to flee their homes.
The killings began after Peliwe Mantywaki was sent back to her family when she failed to fall pregnant after several years of marriage.
When a group of men was dispatched to retrieve the four cows paid as lobolo before the wedding, five of them were murdered. That was a year ago. Since then 11 others have died.
The both families have now experienced more than what they bargained for.
It is reprehensible that a supposed love affair would turn out barbaric and sordid.
According to iNkosi Gcinusapho Mphetshwa, the chief of Mkhandlweni village, the attack took place after a man from his village demanded the return of his lobolo from his in-laws living in the neighbouring village called KwaZulu (in the Eastern Cape, not KwaZulu-Natal).
The husband accused his wife of seven years of being infertile.
According to Mphetshwa the first round of killing started when nine armed attackers from the husband’s Mkhandlweni village went to the wife’s KwaZulu village to demand that the cows paid more than seven years ago for lobolo be returned.
They were overpowered in the fight and five of them were killed with bush knives and assegais.
Four escaped alive.
Mphetshwa said he had earlier intervened in the dispute to try to resolve the demand by the husband’s family to have their lobola returned.
“We sat down with both families and their respective villagers [with interest in the matter]. After discussions, the wife’s family agreed to pay back the lobola of four cows, the same number paid for her seven years ago.”
But the husband’s family did not accept the cows that were returned, arguing they wanted the exact “fat cows” they gave to the wife’s family years ago. They claimed that the cows the wife’s family brought were too thin.
“We have never heard of a situation where families disagree over lobolo to a point that people die. We tried to intervene again and the police were present in a meeting that was arranged involving the two families and the villagers to bring peace.”
Gazula said it was an embarrassment for the African culture that people could kill one another over lobola, something that was meant to unite two families and the villages.
“This is very strange and shocking. I don’t understand why lobola could be an issue seven years after the marriage. We thought that as the two [royal houses] intervened the matter would be quelled.
“We were equally shocked when people started attacking one another in the middle of the night over this thing.”
Mphetshwa said: “The other thing is that people’s bodies were mutilated. Some had their heads cut off, others their private parts. This has led to suspicions that the parts will be used for muti.”
The number of casuaties now has surged to sixteen.
“The main reason for this attack was that the husband’s side wanted the exact cows they paid. Obviously, after seven years, you will not find those exact cows, but that is what they wanted,”
People from the two villages no longer visited each other.