KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC, Nonhlanhla Khoza has called on female farmworkers and tenants to unite and advocate for their rights against injustices they endure in farms.
Khoza was speaking at a farmworkers women’s dialogue held at Stillwaters, in Vryheid, over the weekend. The dialogue was convened to engage on issues affecting women working on farms. Women relayed to Khoza stories of their suffering which include threats, eviction, violence and sexual abuses they endure from farm owners and their husbands.
Some of these farm dwellers were born and raised on the farms. They alleged that they were threatened with evictions and their families' livestock impounded by the farmers for crossing the fences.
Khoza assured them that government was not turning a blind eye to the plight of farm dwellers.
“We are aware of many hardships women suffer at the hands of commercial farmers. We want to see women in farms enjoy equal rights as those living in townships and rural areas. The struggles of women farm workers and tenants affect us all,” said Khoza.
Khoza added that the government had a responsibility to protect women and children and fight gender-based violence everywhere.
“We have to change the situation we see in farms. Women working in farms should be farmers themselves. We have to find a solution to ensure that they also have access to land that they work and live off it. They should be owners of these farms and play a significant role in food production and economy of our country,” she said.
Khoza said it would be gratifying to see women in farms also benefit from service delivery by government.
She also handed over baking equipment to two non-profit organisations held by women, Nkongolwane Organisation and Mgijimi waMakhosikazi, based at Ulundi and Vryheid, respectively. The Department of Social Development spent over R500 000 to purchase the industrial bakery machinery.
“We want to see these women organisations working and creating jobs. They will now be able to produce quality of bread and cakes to sell in bulk in the communities,” said Khoza.
She added that women should be capacitated to participate in all sectors of the economy and ensure they changed their lives.
“We have to follow in the footsteps of women like mama Charlotte Maxeke, Lillian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who have paved the way for women struggles.”