Anger over plight of farm workers

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Leaders of far-flung rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal, who are fed-up with what they perceive as the "non-existence of the judiciary", say they will take to the streets to voice their concerns.

They say farm workers continue to be abused and unfairly evicted by farm owners, and the law does not protect them.

The leaders from the KwaZulu-Natal Rural Network, say they are even more angry because a meeting they had arranged with key KwaZulu-Natal MECs for Wednesday in Pietermaritzburg did not take place.

Deputy chairman of the network, Sydney Mthethwa, said they had hoped to brief the MECs on the problems affecting farm workers in about 15 communities.

"We called for a meeting with the MECs for community safety and liaison, Bheki Cele, and agriculture, Mtholephi Mthimkulu. Neither of them pitched at the meeting and we are very angry," Mthethwa said.

He said members of the movement, representing more than 1000 farm workers, will march in Durban next month to call attention to their plight.

"Farm workers and farm dwellers do not enjoy their rights as human beings. Unfair evictions are ongoing. People are underpaid on the farms.

"There are assaults on farm workers, including their children.

"Some farm dwellers have their cattle and sheep impounded for no reason.

"When these matters are taken to police or the courts, the farmer always wins or the cases are thrown out."

Meanwhile, spokesman for the provincial Department of Agriculture, Mbulelo Baloyi, said the department had not received any written invitation from the network.

He said the department could not have planned for the MEC to be there.

The spokesman for community safety and liaison was not available for comment.