Farm labourers claim ill treatment

2009-12-07 00:00

FARM labourers from various farms in the Midlands area have alleged that they have been ill-treated by farmers and have blamed the Land Affairs Department for some of their hardships.

About 29 farm labourers from New Hanover, Howick, Mooi River and Nottingham Road met with representatives of the Landless People’s Movement at Lidgeton yesterday, where they claimed that farm owners harassed them and destroyed their compound.

They also alleged that, on some farms, the graves of their family members have been flattened and their belongings damaged in the alleged forceful removals.

Farm worker Gladys Mbona, from Mooi River, said that the compound she was staying in with her family was destroyed and her furniture was damaged. She said that most of the labourers were allegedly given compensations, ranging between R15 000 and R40 000 by farm owners, and were told to vacate the farms and find alternative accommodation. The labourers said that they want to move back to the farms.

Land Affairs spokesman Sipho Dlamini cautioned that compensations by farm owners to their labourers have to be approved and signed off by the director general of the department.

President of the KZN Agriculture Union (Kwanalu), Robin Barnsley, told The Witness that the relevant structure tasked with dealing with such issues is the Provincial Land Reform Office of the Department of Land Affairs.

“The Department of Land Affairs investigates the matters and reports to the Committee [of the Provincial Land Reform Office]. The issues are taken up in this forum … Mediation is the approach that is used. If this fails, the law then takes it course,” Barnsley explained.

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