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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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Give us this land to farm

By unknown | Aug 11, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Women farmworkers on Women's Day occupied a piece of land on the white-owned Meulplaas farm in Rawsonville, about 100km from Cape Town, in protest at the lack of land.

They planted seedlings after ploughing the land, but as it was too dangerous for them to sleep there, they said they would return every day to tend their crops.

Now the Department of Land Affairs says it will fast-track their application for land they can farm themselves.

Terence Fife of the Department of Land Affairs tells Sowetan that "the women from Rawsonville are a priority for us".

"Their demands are not unreasonable," he says.

With a heavy police presence, about 100 members of the Rawsonville Women's Agricultural Cooperative and supporters from neighbouring farms occupied the land, which they said had not been used by the owner, Johan Stofberg, for more than 30 years.

Farmworker Jacoba Armoed, 49, said owning her own land would make the dreams of her youth come true.

Another cooperative member, Sophia Mbuliswana, 35, said: "When you work for the white man you cannot save. He is always deducting money. You stay poor".

Mbuliswana is a single mother of three and has been a farmworker for 20 years. She is paid R400 a month.

She alleged that she has been assaulted by a white foreman, known only as Schalk, many times on the farm Pokkraal, where she works.

"The first time was when I urinated in the vineyard because we have no toilets," she says. "He throttled me and hit me. The next time he throttled me because he said I must not speak my own language."

Another member of the cooperative, Josephine Badeba, 40, a mother of four, tells Sowetan that the farmer where she works told her to "f**k off and go look for work at the k*f**r farm".

"Last week he removed the electricity box from our house," she says. "My daughter is doing well at high school but now she has to study by candlelight."

Fatima Shabodien of the Women on Farms Project tells Sowetan the cooperative has been negotiating for land with the Breede River municipality and Department of Land Affairs for two years, without success.

"Large tracts of farmland lie fallow yet the Department of Land Affairs keeps telling us there is no available land," she says.


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