Farmers also at fault - Agri SA
Lizel Steenkamp, Die Burger
Cape Town - Agri SA admitted on Wednesday that commercial farmers' involvement with the police's rural security plan leaves much to be desired.
Johannes Möller, president of Agri SA, also conceded that he "can't say with conviction" that no farmer has ever employed illegal immigrants.
"But I can state with a clear conscience that it's the exception."
However, both this organisation and TAU SA categorically denied that their members abuse or sell liquor to farm workers - allegations made by ANC MPs at a meeting about farm safety on Tuesday.
Agri SA is struggling to get farmers involved in rural security on a large scale.
"I do think that is the one think we can be held responsible for," said Möller.
According to him, sector policing does work in a few areas where farmers understand the system. The old commando system didn't have this weakness because members had completed military conscription in the past.
Now farmers have to be trained before they can become police reservists.
"We have to find a way to establish this expertise in the farming community again," Möller said.
He insisted that commercial farmers wouldn't abuse their farm workers. "Those are exactly the people the farmers have to rely on, because no farmer is always on the property."
TAU SA said it's the farmers who do not belong to organised agriculture who are guilty of such offences.
"You will find those (who abuse farm workers and use illegal immigrants as cheap labour). They are the ones who give farmers a bad name. Our members know what the correct and acceptable labour practices are," said Ben Marais, president of the TAU SA.