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Farm workers protest against unfair evictions

By unknown | 2009-02-05 00:00:00.0

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Farm workers in North West are fighting back against their employers by resisting what they call "rampant evictions" on the farms.

Yesterday, farm workers from Ottosdal and surrounding areas marched to the departments of Justice and Agriculture to hand over a memorandum.

The march was organised by the Cosatu-affiliated Food and Allied Workers Union, demanding "that North West farmers stop evicting and mistreating farm workers".

Cosatu's provincial secretary, Solly Phetoe, said all eviction cases in the courts must be withdrawn and called on the Department of Land Affairs to assist farm workers who faced evictions.

Farm workers and their supporters took a few hours off from work and demonstrated outside the Ottosdal magistrate's court.

Among them was father of three, 55-year-old Isaac Moheleng.

Moheleng, who claimed he was facing eviction by his employer, said he had worked at Diamantaar farm, 40 kilometres from Ottosdal, since 1966.

"I have worked on that farm for over 40 years, but I have nothing to show for it. And to top it all, my employer wants me and my family to leave.

"This is because I fell ill and had to apply for a disability pension. That farm is the only place I call home," said Moheleng.

He said he has been told to pay R50 for each of his three grandchildren and his wife who live with him on the farm, R20 for electricity and R100 for water every month. He said his three children were chased away in 2006.

Inside court, the case between Johannes van der Berg, his wife Francina and their employees Boikanyo and Mirriam Manokwa was being heard.

According to Isaac Matshitse, an attorney for the Manokwas, the family has lived and worked on the Van der Berg's farm for the past 16 years.

Van der Berg wants the Manokwas to leave as they no longer work for him, and blames them for the tools that allegedly went missing from his property," said Matshitse.

The case was postponed to March 4 to allow for a social worker's report to be finalised.