In Willow Park people are used to suffering

Madala Thepa

Madala Thepa

Low wages and being treated badly are things 57-year-old William Molefe is accustomed to.

Suffering is like his second skin ... his soul-sucking beat. Everything that has happened to him is digitised in his sad eyes. He was born on the farm and knows no relative outside the fence of Willow Park.

According to him the farm was started in 1960. His parents worked and died on another farm. He has never seen a classroom in his life. Spelling his names, counting cash and long conversations do not come easily to him.

Despite these obvious handicaps Molefe is the custodian of history on this farm. He knows its genetic make-up, where it is arable and where it needs work.

He lists all the equipment needed - a tractor, more boreholes, a sprinkler systems and infrastructure. He has dedicated his life to the farm, working the fields for peanuts. His first pay on the farm was a mere R3 a month. It was increased to R7 and later to R12. This was in 1985.

"Then we got R70 until I gave up and went searching for a new job," he says as he wipes the sweat from his brow.

"When I say Snyman was paying well, it was when I got R80. Now it's been two years without a job. The last job I had was in Klerksdorp, where I was doing bricklaying."

His home is a miserable mud hut amid long grass.

"That man left us like this." he says. "Then, again, what can you do to a white man. He even left without giving us the money we contributed to our pension."

He shrugs and takes us through to his small garden patch. He has planted carrots, onions, potatoes and hopes to make a living from it.

"Other than that we cut grass and sell it to white people who need it to thatch their guests houses."