Tractor kills farmworker

February 05,2017 . Jacob Selebano , Agnes Selebano and Pulane Selebano (Standing). They are mourning the death of their family member and farm worker Sello Jospeh Selebano , 28, who died at his workplace last month. Pic Veli Nhlapo © Sowetan
February 05,2017 . Jacob Selebano , Agnes Selebano and Pulane Selebano (Standing). They are mourning the death of their family member and farm worker Sello Jospeh Selebano , 28, who died at his workplace last month. Pic Veli Nhlapo © Sowetan

A Free State family want to know what happened on the day their loved one died after being run over by a tractor he was driving at his workplace last month.

Sello Joseph Selebano, 28 from Phomolong, Hennenman, was employed as a general worker at a farm in Kroonstad.

His duties included driving a tractor, ploughing and looking after livestock among others, according to his family.

His younger sister, Motshidisi Selebano, 27, said her brother had worked at the farm for seven months before he died on January 26. "He was dedicated to his work. He was a responsible person and would send us money monthly," she said.

She said Sello was looking after his family, which included his grandmother and other siblings, with the R2600 monthly salary he earned on the farm.

Motshidisi said they learnt about Sello's death on the day he died from a neighbour who had received a phone call from one of his colleagues.

The neighbour claims she was told by other employees that Sello's death was caused after wheels of a tractor he was driving came off and he was crushed to death.

Two days later, his grandmother Agnes Selebano, 72, headed to the farm, accompanied by other family members, where they met the owner.

"His employer confirmed that Sello was driving the tractor on that day.

"He added he didn't send him anywhere with the tractor and did not know where he got the keys of the tractor from, as he didn't have permission to drive the tractor on that day," Motshidisi said. "But his colleagues said he was performing his duties using the tractor that killed him.

"We then asked for compensation and the man told us that he won't give us a cent. We pleaded with him to contribute for his funeral as he died under his employ and he still refused," said Motshidisi.

Sello was buried on Saturday after his grandmother asked for donations and assistance from neighbours.

"We want answers and don't know what happened to my grandson. The explanation we received is vague," she said.

The farmer gave the family Sello's full January salary in an envelope.

"His employer said my brother was not permanently employed. He worked there daily, including on weekends and holidays.

"We last saw him on December 26 returning to work after spending Christmas with us. He loved his work and told us that he was working hard to feed us," Motshidisi said.

According to Sello's death certificate, he died from "unnatural causes".

The autopsy report conducted on January 31 stated that "The deceased was the driver of the tractor on the farm Voorspoed Kroonstad. He drove down a koppie . and lost control downhill and the tractor jack-knifed and he fell off and the tractor ran over him".

He died from multiple injuries.

Family urged to seek legal recourse

When asked for comment, the man whose contact details appeared on the company's letterhead on Sello's payslip said he did not own the farm and refused to comment. He later hung up.

SMSes were sent to the phone number, including that of the alternative number also written on the payslip, for comment and at the time of going to print there was no response from both lines.

Police spokesman Sergeant Ian Gaobepe said they had opened an inquest docket and their investigations were under way.

Advocate Simon Mangolele said there could be recourse for the family regarding compensation if there was an injury on duty.

"However, this is not injury on duty if the allegations are true. It is a death on duty. I would advise the family to visit the nearest department of labour offices to enquire about compensation for their loved one, as well circumstances about recourse. They should also approach the Legal Aid Board offices close to them for legal advice which could be done for free," Mangolele said.

"I want to believe that they are entitled to some sort of compensation but from whom is the issue.

"They should also enquire at the labour department who should be liable to compensate them - between the department and the employer," said Mangolele.

ntwagaes@sowetan.co.za

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