Racial can of worms

The saga of Meyerton farmer Derick James Steyn, published in Sowetan yesterday, opens a can of worms with regard to relations between some farmers and farmworkers.

The saga of Meyerton farmer Derick James Steyn, published in Sowetan yesterday, opens a can of worms with regard to relations between some farmers and farmworkers.

Accused of terrorising a black community in the Vaal, Steyn is reported to enjoy protection from his magistrate friend each time he is arrested for assaulting his workers.

Angered by the farmer's apparent untouchability, lawyer Godfrey Machimana lodged an application for the latest case against Steyn - involving his domestic worker who laid assault charges - to be heard by another magistrate. The application was granted on Wednesday.

Of importance is a thorny issue raised by Machimana: "My only interest is to show that most of the farm killings result from the abuse labourers suffer at the hands of farmers and the protection the same farmers enjoy from our courts and police."

Sowetan has raised the same sentiment whenever farmers' organisations attributed farm attacks to a systematic political plot (a la Zimbabwe land grabs) to drive them off their farms.

While not condoning farm attacks, the reality is that relations between farmers and workers have always left much to be desired.

Underlying the polarised relations are mostly factors such as racism and exploitation.

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