'INVESTIGATE FARM ABUSE'

TALKING TOUGH: Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa addressed journalists in Cape Town yesterday. Pic: Esa Alexander. 22/07/2009. © Sunday Times..
TALKING TOUGH: Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa addressed journalists in Cape Town yesterday. Pic: Esa Alexander. 22/07/2009. © Sunday Times..

POLICE Minister Nathi Mthethwa has called on the police to take seriously complaints by farm workers against farmers who abuse them.

"The police are not taking up farm workers' grievances," Mthethwa said in Parliament yesterday.

"If a crime is reported it is crime. It can't have colour and it cannot be that because this one has reported it, it must be attended to and the other not," he said.

He had earlier met with the Food and Allied Workers Union to discuss the abuse of farm workers by farmers.

Cosatu North West secretary Solly Phetoe said he received at least 15 complaints a month from black farm workers who had been assaulted by their bosses.

Last month Western Cape's Sikhula Sonke Farmworkers Union reported how a 14-year-old boy - the son of a farm worker - had been assaulted by a farmer.

But when he reported the matter to the police he was arrested instead of the farmer who assaulted him.

Mthethwa promised yesterday to "ensure a harmonious relationship between farmers and farm workers".

"There are good farmers. There might be those who are not treating their workers well," Mthetwa said. "We are concerned about those and would want to ensure that comes to an end."

Last week Mthethwa met farmers to discuss the issue of security on farms.

These meetings follow the recent killing of AWB leader Eugène Terre'Blanche, allegedly by his workers.

The killing led to an outcry by right-wing bodies who claimed there was a political campaign to murder white farmers, while Cosatu said the abuse of black farm workers was underplayed.

l See pages 6 and 17.

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