Farm dwellers protest treatment

2007-11-19 00:00

PEOPLE employed on farms around the midlands marched to the Mooi River police station at the weekend, protesting ill treatment by farm owners.

The marchers were from areas such as Impendle, Mpofana and Mooi River and were seen carrying placards saying “Bheki Cele [Community Safety and Liaison MEC] should stop crime against farm dwellers”.

Speaking at the march, chairwoman of the Mpofana branch of the Landless People's Movement, Gcina Shabalala said: “Today we are here to put a stop to the abuse of farm dwellers by farm owners. When we have done something wrong, there have been instances where they call police and the matter is taken to court, but when they abuse us, and we open cases against them, we find that files have been lost”.

Peter Sibiya from Impendle said: “Most of us were born on these farms and they do not even allow us to bury our loved ones there. Worse of all we cannot even keep our cattle because we are told to pay a rent of between R30 and R40 per cow. We also have rights as humans but we feel as if those rights are infringed upon”.

Another farm worker, Chris Mzangwa, said farm labourers are being abused by farm owners.

“This has affected our children who cannot go to school freely in areas such as Impendle because they are told not to cross certain boundaries. This is also our land and we are not prepared to move out of it because our ancestors lived there.”

Organisations that also took part in the march were the Association for Rural Advancement, Tenure Co-ordination Security and Impendle Tenure Forum.

Head of the security desk for farmers' union Kwanalu, Koos Marais said: “The laws of this country state clearly that if a landowner contravenes, a case should be opened and

investigated, and if found guilty the law should take it course. However, landowners are legal owners until proven differently by a Land Claims Court and they need protection.”

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