Cosatu: Farmworkers victimised

2009-01-12 20:13

Pretoria - Farmworkers in the North West are still living in fear of being evicted, killed or assaulted, Cosatu said on Monday.

"The Congress of SA Trade Unions in the North West condemns the attitude of farmers who still believe that this country belongs to them," said provincial secretary Solly Phetoe.

He said the abusive activities were led by some white farmers in the Lichtenburg, Ottosdal, Delareyville and Wolmaransstad areas.

"It is on the record that during the festive season many farm workers had a black Christmas, with no food, no water, no place to sleep and with court papers ordering them to be evicted after they had worked on those farms for over 17 years to 40 years."

Phetoe said Cosatu called on its members to support the poor families, including farmworkers, who would be demonstrating outside the Ottosdal Magistrate's Court on January 14 (Wednesday).

The workers would be demonstrating against an appeal by the owner of the Plaas Rietspruit farm to evict them.

There would also be a demonstration and picketing in the Lichtenburg area by farmworkers, farm communities and the Young Communist League of SA on January 13 (Tuesday).

Phetoe said the date would coincide with the appearance of another Johan Nel in the Lichtenburg Magistrate's Court after he allegedly shot 16-year-old student William Oupa Ntsaku more than three times in October 2008.

"It is clear and on record that the farmers of the North West have declared war against the poor working class," he said, also referring to the Skierlik shootings by convicted murderer Johan Nel.

Phetoe said there would also be protests by Cosatu affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), at the Simmer and Jack mine in Buffelsfontein on January 14 (Wednesday).

The NUM would be demanding that management engage with the union and to stop "union bashing" led by some white people in management, said Phetoe.

"It [the mine] has declared war against the NUM branch leadership and members and has refused to discuss the ways of stopping the forthcoming retrenchments," he said.

Comment from Simmer and Jack was not immediately available.