Farmer dismisses worker after 33 years

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Farmworker Samson Zuma lost his job because he buried his son on his farmer-employer's land, though his boss told him not to.

Zuma has worked on Fairview Farm for more than 33 years. A fortnight ago Eric Bentley fired Zuma for burying his son, Xolani Wiseman, 33, on the farm.

When Zuma reported the death to Bentley, the farmer told him not to bury his son on his farm.

Zuma said: "He said I was not entitled to bury my son there. I was surprised because his father permitted me to bury on a piece of land he allocated to me."

He said when he tried to negotiate the burial, Bentley was abusive.

"He said that his father was dead and he was making the decisions now."

Zuma said the workers were happy on the farm until the son took over.

"His father was a good man. He allocated us a piece of land to plough and to bury our people, but when he died in 2004 it all changed," Zuma said.

He said time was not on his side so he went ahead and buried his son on Saturday. Later, when he reported for work, Zuma was fired.

"He chased me out and said I was not working there any more because I had defied his orders," said Zuma.

Zuma has reported the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Mangaliso Kubheka of the Landless People's Movement said this was part of the on-going abuse by farmers.

"The Labour Department must intervene for unfair dismissal. We will also intervene. We can't allow these things to continue because cremation and burial rights legislature was passed in KwaZulu-Natal and we don't expect such things to pop up again and again."

Mbulelo Baloyi, spokesman for the department of agriculture and environmental affairs, said: "It's worrying because the problem is growing. We are busy trying to sort out a similar case in Underberg.

"These things happen despite the Extension of Security Tenure Act and the cemeteries and cremation acts."