Cosatu calls on workers to defend themselves

COSATU Western Cape has called on farm-workers to form self-defence units to resist forced evictions by farmers.

The call was made by Mike Louw, Cosatu's Western Cape organiser, following the brutal attack on a 14-year-old boy - allegedly by a farmer in Robertson, 100km from Cape Town.

About nine days ago Eon Fortuin, the son of a farm-worker, was dragged from his grandmother's house while sleeping. He was allegedly beaten by the farmer and his two foremen.

The farmer reportedly dropped Fortuin off at the police station after beating him. He spent the night in the cells.

Fortuin appeared in court last week on charges of "public disturbance" - alone, because he had not been able to contact his family.

Wendy Pekeur, general secretary of Sikhula Sonke, a community group, said the farmer had "indicated that the boy was on the farm illegally and that he had no right to be there".

This though the teenager was born on the farm and, according to his mother, was "the place he calls home".

Fortuin disappeared after the attack, hitchhiking to Cape Town where he went into hiding for days, only returning last week.

Cosatu urged farm-workers to form self-defence units to fight evictions.

The farmer told Sowetan: "I have no comment on false accusations", before slamming down the phone.

The police said they could not comment on the case because it was still being investigated.