Workers accuse police, farmers of brutality

2013-01-17 17:44

Cape Town - The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is investigating at least 20 complaints of brutality against striking Western Cape farmworkers, it said on Thursday.

"At the last count, it was 20 complaints, but we're still counting the most recent ones. The complaints are against the police, farmers and private security," SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena said.

He said workers had reported cases of police brutality, racism and inhumane living and working conditions.

SAHRC officials were visiting the affected areas, including De Doorns, to gather information on the cases and help the community lodge complaints.

On Monday, spaza shop worker Letsekang Tlokoane, 25, died when he was allegedly shot with rubber bullets in De Doorns.

The same day, a 10-year-old girl was apparently shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) spokesperson Moses Dlamini said he had received from the SAHRC numerous cases involving the police, mostly of assault and the use of rubber bullets at close range.

Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand that their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a coherent land reform programme be implemented. The strike was suspended in December, but resumed last Wednesday in various towns in the province.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced a week-long suspension of the strike on Tuesday, on condition that Agri SA honour commitments to "local-level" agreements and agree to stop the victimisation of workers.

Both Cosatu's Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich and Agriculture MEC Gerrit van Rensburg said a large number of farmworkers were back at work on Thursday.

However, the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry (Bawsi) said the strike was still on.

"The strike will continue across the province until there is an agreement for better wages and worker protection," said Nosey Pieterse, Bawsi president and general secretary of the Building and Allied Workers' Union of SA.

Pieterse said he represented thousands of striking workers who did not belong to unions.

Minority of workers unionised

The agriculture department estimated the number of permanent and seasonal workers in the province at around 200 000.

Of these, only 5% were unionised, Ehrenreich said.

Despite this figure, he said Cosatu had more influence in the strike than Bawsi did.

"Cosatu is a national organisation with incredible influence and power, with alarming strength. This is not a competition though. We want to work with smaller organisations. Bawsi is a small organisation with significant influence."

At least 180 people had been arrested in connection with the protests since Wednesday last week, mostly for public violence.

Western Cape police spokesperson Andre Traut said marching workers in De Doorns were being monitored on Thursday afternoon.

"No incidents of violence have been reported as yet," he said.

  • sani.ghana.3 - 2013-01-17 17:50

    we blame these anc agent for the violence and robbing of shops

      lownabester - 2013-01-17 19:09

      And what about the farmers and the workers that wanted to work??? This is getting out of hand.

  • Bob - 2013-01-17 17:58

    There's few organisations I despise more than human rights groups such as the SAHRC. Jesus what a bunch of leftist scum.

      nettie.potgieter.5 - 2013-01-17 18:16

      Yes I think they must just for one day try to controle these strikers, just one day.

      themba.thwala.775 - 2013-01-17 18:33

      The SAHRC is nothing but a toothless dog which is funded by the ANC government (Department of Justice), is administered by cadres (e.g the Chairman is a former ANC speaker of National Council of Provinces and ANC MP)and does nothing beyond whitewash serious human violations on the part of its funder, the ANC government. At best, it makes weak, timid recommendations which can just be ignored, especially where the government is implicated in human rights violations. It is nothing but a sham

  • Dennis - 2013-01-17 18:05

    What about the burning mayhem and general anarchy by these animals. And I have to ask the question what type of low life parent allows there 10 year old daughter to be involved in a strike action.

      themba.thwala.775 - 2013-01-17 18:33

      Animals don't strike, burn down and loot private property

      themba.thwala.775 - 2013-01-17 20:42

      Yanga, you brainless sheep, it's Mr Thwala to you, not BAASBOY :)

      ingadi.umfanahle - 2013-01-17 21:00

      @Yanga. It is more likely that YOU will be the victim of some of your ANIMAL friends. Just go outside... and be the victim of your sick culture.

      ronald.stilianou - 2013-01-17 21:13

      Yanga, And at the end of it all where do you think you will end up?, a victim of these so called animals or are you going to be one of them killing innocent people in their sleep?, hacking them to death and stuffing them into freezers? - (your words)

      ronald.stilianou - 2013-01-18 08:46

      Or how about idiot?, I see you've spent the day protesting with the farmworkers. You are the personification of what is wrong in this country. Idiots like you is sending this country into the pits of hell. You don't know what your actions are doing to your own people. Have you even got an inkling of understanding of how the economy works? You! Are the problem! You can threaten me all you want, I know you are too much of a coward to come and hack me, I'm not old, I am young and in shape and I promise you it will take more than a shovel or a stick to get me down. But please do try, I'll be waiting. The best part is that now I've got everything on you, from photo to phone number. I'll know where to start if anything goes tits up.

  • jacostoneysteenkamp - 2013-01-17 18:07

    Here's a question , if we as South African's decide to industrialize farms, like with robotics and we don't have anymore need for farm workers, will we be free from this stupidity?No farmers , no increases on salaries no problems...makes you wonder if there isn't a bit of a business opportunity lingering out there...

      yanga.maroloma - 2013-01-17 20:14

      That's just a PIPE DREAM, where are you gonna get those??? Hee?? Invent them?? Dnt think so. If that was feasible, People with capabilities would have brainstormed that, like the Japanesse. You Sir should just focus on what you do best, HATE!!!

      ingadi.umfanahle - 2013-01-17 21:03

      @Yanga. How dare you even mention the Japanese. You disgusting little piece of crap. Resourcefulness and innovation is not part of your culture. Don't think its not part of others.

  • johan.viljoen.58 - 2013-01-17 18:09

    kom nou Cosatu - as julle plunder en boere aanrand dan is alles okay ?

  • emilyjane.elson - 2013-01-17 18:09

    At least 180 people had been arrested in connection with the protests since Wednesday last week, mostly for public violence. "No incidents of violence have been reported as yet," he said. LOL!

  • joe.irwin.50 - 2013-01-17 18:10

    Of course they do. Angels don't lie.

  • johan.viljoen.58 - 2013-01-17 18:11

    om te strike is nie vir sissies nie Cosatu. As julle plunder en die boere aanrand is alles okay ?

  • ronald.stilianou - 2013-01-17 18:15

    If you strike like you were supposed to (piece fully) then it would not be necessary for the police to shoot you with rubber bullets. You would still have a job and you would not be in pain right now. You are uneducated, by choice, there's a lot of people that come from your area who did not drop out of school in standard 6, that is leading a productive life. But you decided not to go that route. Now you feel that the people that gave you a livelihood is not giving you enough... Do you deserve more? Did you at any point try to better yourself by going back to school? How is it the polices fault if you break the law? If you were shot and you were not part of the strike, then what were you doing in the street?, common sense would tell you that it would be better to stay indoors. Maybe you should ask your elders what you should do because whatever you are doing now is not going to end well for you and your family and friends.

  • ware.afrikaner.5 - 2013-01-17 18:16

    Oh shame,they want destroy property and put peoples lifes at risk,but please don't do something to stop them then they want to complain,well they can all go to hell.all a bunch of useless thugs and greatfull for what you have you bunch of idiots

      ingadi.umfanahle - 2013-01-17 21:05

      @Yanga: Squatter thug. why dont you shut up and let the smart people talk. The only racist extremist here is you.

      yanga.maroloma - 2013-01-17 22:50

      @ingadi, to begin with..what kind of name is that? Secondly, what are you smoking? 'Smart people' who's that? You?? If you are talking about yourself, you might be as well be convinced that Pigs can fly. Me a thug, do away with generalisation. Eish I forgot that common sense in not common.

  • stavious.mamatepa - 2013-01-17 18:17

    Brutality se gat! What do they call burning farms,looting shops and throwing stones at the police?

  • christiaanschoeman123 - 2013-01-17 18:20

    Its their own damn fault if they dont strike these things wont happen. its simple if you work hard in life you will get where u want to be but by putting down your tools you are simply not gonna get their karma is a bitch. where the hell is this country going??

  • logical007 - 2013-01-17 18:26

    Burning the farms is not an act of violence? Killing innocent white farmers is not an act of racism by blacks? why is cANCerous not putting a 'team' to investigate all farm murders? A team was set up to investigate lightning strikes attacking Black people?? Come on you racist corrupt cANCerous thugs, stop blaming your lack of ability on the people!

  • Brian Dorning - 2013-01-17 18:27

    Yawn...@ the strikers, as yourselves this: Would the SAPS have acted like this if you part took in a legal and peaceful strike? The 'Amplats 14000 club' awaits you

  • piet.snot.77964 - 2013-01-17 18:30

    What about the protestors brutality - throwing stones at me and setting fire to and damaging property - SAHRC what about my rights to peaceful living and not having to drive a few hundred kilometres out of my way and being late for a meeting - are you investigating my complaints. I bet not - what a bunch of hypocrites you are.

      yanga.maroloma - 2013-01-17 19:38

      Pay the workers what's due to them Piet, then you will suffer non of the above mentioned.

      Gareth Deeble - 2013-01-18 07:07

      Yanga you're a moron they pick grapes for a living no real skill needed,they should be thankful they got something for filling a basket with grapes

  • raymond.kok3 - 2013-01-17 18:32

    i hope when you done with the angels you will go to the farmers and farmworkers because the ones you are interviewing now are the rent a crowds that the most useless politician in the western cape has bought in from wherever ,and all the damage done happened all by itself all the stones on the road,cars torched ect, ect ect

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2013-01-17 18:34

    Ehren's Reich is starting a war just like Hitler.

  • themba.thwala.775 - 2013-01-17 18:35

    The Police are exercising a great deal of restraint in the face of extreme hooliganism. Butt out SAHRC, a drain to taxpayers' monies

  • Watkykj - 2013-01-17 19:03

    And the protesters have been peaceful and quiet, not breaking and destroying other peoples property......

  • neil.zive - 2013-01-17 19:06

    How does a spans shop owner get shot with a rubber bullet during a "farm workers" strike ? How many of these people are actually farm workers.

      yanga.maroloma - 2013-01-17 19:33

      60% of the protesters are not farm workers, its the youth_the school going age. Then local politicians and us (joy riders) who just get involved for the fun of it.

      Francois Kannemeyer - 2013-01-17 21:12

      white people in SA talk too much!ironic they are just a small% of the people of SA.

  • Bra - 2013-01-17 19:12

    I see war coming

  • isaac.mosina1 - 2013-01-17 19:37

    The police are always provoking poor workers in most of the time and they are doing this cause they shield each other if workers lay charges about their rotten behavour they are not getting help from the police they rather make jokes out of them maybe if SAHR can intervine and take drastic action against the police they will behave in the rite manner.

  • herbert.smith.9655 - 2013-01-17 19:46

    Yes, the brutal police and farmers; we as workers only burn the vineyards, block the national road and throw stones at cars, burn a few vehaaikels, we are not guilty of sabotaging the economy or making sure that farmers stop exporting fruit to earn revenue. The Human Rights Commission must help us against this brutality !!! What a lot of rubbish!!!!

  • altus.kirsten - 2013-01-17 21:15


  • gerrit.vanbreda1 - 2013-01-17 21:32

    Why use rubber bullets? Live rounds are much cheaper.

  • henry.conradie.1 - 2013-01-18 06:31

    And still News 24 insists on calling these political pawns farmworkers. An grievous insult to all real farmworkers out there.

  • luna.moon.5243817 - 2013-01-27 08:27

    wander who is brutal...the strikers or the police/farmers/security guards trying to protect the farmers from these hooligans. SAHRC should should be banned

  • anaska - 2013-01-27 14:10

    As usual the government uses kids for their own purposes (sic)

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