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Why Absa waited 15 months before closing Gupta accounts

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Labourers are left high and dry

By Boitumelo Tshehle North West Correspondent | 2012-09-19 07:10:59.0

DISGRUNTLED and famished, a community of mostly former farm workers in North West claims they have been abandoned after the farms they had worked and lived on were sold to the Bafokeng nation.

The Royal Bafokeng Administration bought the farm land in Rietvlei outside Rustenburg from the workers' employers.

According to the workers, they were told that it was agreed that a better place to stay would be found for them.

Twelve years down the line, about 800 people on these farms are living without electricity, running water and sanitation.

They live in one-roomed backrooms on different farms while their children walk long distances to schools.

They do not have access to health facilities, safety and security services and facilities like a police station, let alone social grants, as many do not have identity documents and birth certificates.

Every day, most of the residents can be found basking in the sun with their hungry-looking children playing around them and the elderly drinking sorghum beer.

"It's how we live, daily," Nkadimeng Pine, 73, said. If the Bafokeng nation had not bought the land, we could still be employed."

Flora Ranou, a mother of six children and grandmother to 10, said: "We have lived like this for a long time. We are used to this lifestyle. It is hard and we wish to live like other people."

Rustenburg local municipality spokesman Peter Manzana said the municipality had agreed to provide the community with water on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Manzana said the people had refused to move to an alternative area with amenities, Tlaseng village, saying it was "far".

Manager at Royal Bafokeng Administration, Minah Huma, said they started purchasing the majority of plots in the Rietvlei area in 2001 with the aim of consolidating the Royal Bafokeng Nation's land.

She said after the conclusion of some of the transactions, it was discovered that the previous owners had left their workers on the plots. The Royal Bafokeng Nation then took a resolution to integrate them into it.

"A plan to relocate them to other Bafokeng villages was communicated [to] and accepted by these families," she said. - tshehleb@sowetan.co.za

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