Youth League torture claims incense farmers

2009-09-12 00:00

FARMERS in the Underberg area are outraged at allegations by the KwaZulu-Natal ANC Youth League (ANCYL) that farmers violate farm workers’ basic rights by torturing, harassing and beating them.

The farmers told Weekend Witness that the allegations made by the ANCYL are not true.

ANCYL provincial secretary Sboniso Duma alleged that farm workers are being harassed, tortured and beaten and that black people are prevented from entering certain stores, which he said are reserved for use by white people.

Duma claimed a farmer found a man’s body on August 18, but he only informed the police on August 30.

The farm owner who discovered the body wishes to remain anonymous. He told Weekend Witness he was alerted by one of his workers on August 31 that a body was found hanging from a tree on a neighbouring farm.

“I then informed my neighbour of what was rumoured and we decided to meet the following day to look as it was already 7 pm,” he said.

The next day, after an hour’s search, he came across the body hanging in a wattle plantation next to a path. The body was not rotten, did not smell and was not harmed in any way, he said. He said he immediately informed the Hime­ville police who, after inspecting the scene, identified the man as a missing person. An inquest docket has been opened.

“To the best of my knowledge, the farmers and farm workers in Underberg have a good relationship, and the police do their best too,” he said.

Another farm owner, Sue Acutt, rubbished claims that black people are not allowed in certain stores, saying all the stores in the area are open to every person.

Acutt said farm workers have good relations with farm owners and that no owner tortures, beats or harasses employees.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said he is not aware of cases of such abuse being reported.

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