Family angry that farmers remain free after beating

2019-08-02 15:00
Farm worker Mbongiseni Masuku shows some of the injuries he sustained during the Vryheid farm assault.

Farm worker Mbongiseni Masuku shows some of the injuries he sustained during the Vryheid farm assault.

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The relatives of two farm workers who were brutally beaten by their employers at a farm in Vryheid are seething with anger after police have “refused” to arrest the suspects.

Mbongiseni Masuku (25) and his uncle Skhumbuzo Khumalo, who died during the assault, were allegedly beaten up by the farmers in June after being accused of theft.

According to one of the victims’ relatives, Nqobile Hlophe, the two men were beaten after some equipment at the farm had gone missing.

“The farmers had demanded that Mbongiseni and Skhumbuzo show them where they have hidden the equipment and when they told them that they knew nothing about the equipment they then started to assault them,” Hlope said.

“They hit them with knobkerries and tortured them with electric shocks.

“Skhumbuzo died during the horrific ordeal while Mbongiseni suffered serious injuries on the head and the whole body — even now he still struggles to speak,” she said.

When the family learnt about the assault they went to the Vryheid police station to report the matter.

“We took Mbongiseni to the police station where he told the police that he knew the people who had attacked them.

“However, to our surprise and disappointment the attackers were not arrested. We don’t understand how such dangerous people are allowed to continue with their lives after such evil deeds,” Hlophe said.

Local community leader Mfana Zwane said the incident had angered the entire community.

“Most of the people around here are farm workers and this incident shows them how employers around here don’t value the lives of black people.

“As the community we strongly believe that police are trying to cover up the matter.

“Despite the fact that one of the victims is still alive and knows the attackers, police are yet to act.

“When we took up the matter with the police one of the policemen even lied to us and said we don’t have to worry as the suspects have already been arrested. We are not even sure whether they even bothered to register the case,” he said.

While police confirmed that the matter was being investigated, they denied claims about a cover-up.

The Association for Rural Advancement (Afra) said the Vryheid assault highlighted the fact that farm workers remained vulnerable to abuse despite legislation meant to protect them.

“The problem that we see as Afra is that government is not doing enough to educate both farm owners and the workers about the law,” said Afra spokesperson Nokuthula Mthimunye.

Statistics show that attacks on farms have increased by 60% since 2010. According to the Transvaalse Landbou-unie (TLU) farm attacks have jumped from 1 400 between 2000 and 2009 to 2 616 between 2010 and 2019.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  assault

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