Police search on for bishop ‘who kept slaves on farm’

2012-03-28 07:59

Eastern Cape police are looking for a church bishop who allegedly owns a farm where three slaves were kept, in allegedly appalling conditions, frequently beaten, and made to work the fields from sunrise to sunset.

Police made this startling discovery at the farm near Stutterheim yesterday after responding to a tip-off, the Daily Dispatch reported.

Four men were arrested at the farm by police who raided the farm, while the three captives, two of whom are mentally ill, were freed from chains.

Police spokesperson Captain Ernest Sigobe this morning said: “He (the bishop) has not yet been arrested, but we are looking for him as part of our investigation.

“We have opened a docket for kidnapping and assault with aggravating circumstances, but these charges could still be amended before they appear in court. We can keep them for 48 hours, while we investigate, before they appear in court,” he said.

The released men were taken to hospital yesterday and will be released on their own recognisance, Sigobe added.

One of them, 18 year-old Duma Mgcete, told the Dispatch he had been kept captive since January 2011 and had often suffered beatings.

It is understood the workers, who received no pay for their work, had been brought to the farm because they had misbehaved.

Foreman at the farm, Sivuyile Nkayi, allegedly said: “Of course we hit them. They are stupid and must work. If they are being silly they get hit.”

He also said the slaves made wire cars and ornaments that the bishop’s church, in Dimbaza location, sold for money.

The three were apparently made to sleep – shackled – in a single mattress, right next to a room that was used for prayers.

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