Farm allegations ‘all false’

2015-09-02 09:48
Worley Common farm manager Hendrick Cadle talks about the farm’s progress since the Roy Moodley Family Trust took ownership last year.

Worley Common farm manager Hendrick Cadle talks about the farm’s progress since the Roy Moodley Family Trust took ownership last year. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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WORLEY Common’s farm manager has denied he disconnected his staff’s water or impounded their cattle following last week’s labour strike at Mooi River.

Disgruntled families living on the farm, accompanied by the Landless People’s Movement, marched to Worley Common last Wednesday to hand the farm manager, Hendrick Cadle, a memorandum alleging the mistreatment of the families by Cadle.

The memorandum said that Cadle had impounded their cattle, cut off their water and electricity supply and would not allow the families to bury their dead on the farm’s land.

Cadle said in an interview with The Witness that the allegations made in the memorandum were “all false”.

Cadle and his attorney, Dirk Vercuil, said the farm was bought by the Roy Moodley Family Trust in August last year. Cadle has been the farm’s caretaker since October 2013.

Vercuil said an application had been submitted to the Mooi River Magistrate’s Court by the farm’s previous owners to impound the staff’s cattle on the farm.

“I had nothing to do with the impoundment. I couldn’t apply or sign anything, I was just the caretaker when it happened. It’s not my farm,” said Cadle.

Cadle said his only involvement was to deliver the notice to the families and said he gave the job to a security guard to do.

Vercuil said the court application which was granted in May last year. It was appealed by three of the five families living on the farm and was later withdrawn through a written notice.

Cadle said the same system was applied to the cutting of the electricity and water supply, which he said was done through the previous owners in July and August 2013.

“When I was appointed as the official caretaker, I connected their electricity under my name so they got electricity immediately.

“I don’t know why all these issues are being brought up now,” he said.

Vercuil said that the issue surrounding the burials of family members was “entrenched in law”, and as current owner and manager, Moodley and Cadle did not know what the burial practices were on the farm.

“The contract the families signed with the previous owners in 2002 undertook that if there was a death in the family, they would be buried in a public burial ground.”

A woman who used to lease the farm from the previous owners and asked not to be named said there had been “some issues” on the farm with staff, but said she felt the previous owners had been fair to the staff. “When the staff were retrenched, a letter and a notice that the electricity would be cut off was sent out.

“They were paid full severance for their services and were given the option of paying their electricity, but the farm could not afford the electricity bill each month.”

She said before the cattle were impounded, the previous owner offered to buy the cattle for a “premium cash settlement”, but the families refused.

LANDLESS People’s Movement (LPM) Mooi River chairperson Gcina Shabalala denied that they had withdrawn the appeal in the matter relating to the impounding of the cattle.

“I can assure you that the matter is going to high court,” said Shabalala.

Shabalala said he believed that farm residents have every right to stay on the farm, although some of them no longer work at the farm.

“We do acknowledge that they got onto the farm as labour tenants. However, I think we appreciate that they are not staying in a compound,” he said.

“In 1998 the previous owners decided to demolish all the houses of the labour tenants because they were mud houses. They then built brick houses for the labour tenants. The law is very clear when it comes to this; those houses belong to labour tenants,” said Shaba­lala. He said he had no knowledge of any contracts dated 2001 that the previous owners are said to have had with the labour tenants.

“As far as I know, in South Africa, farm workers only started having contracts in 2005,” he said.

Dumisani Ngobese also denied having had a contract with the previous owners.

Rural Development and Land Reform declined to comment on the resolutions taken in a meeting where they engaged with the new owners of the farm.

“I have just been advised that I should not send these resolutions at this stage, as signing of these resolution is currently being facilitated. I will advise in due course on this matter,” said legal officer Fanyana Nzuza

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