Source: Republic of South Africa: The Parliament |

Committees on Agriculture and Labour Wrap up Oversight Programme in Limpopo

A committee delegation visited Purekrans Farm 271 KR in Waterberg District, where they met with the Mathye family

The delegation asked the department for a progress report on the claim every three months to ensure that Mr Mathye’s dream of owning this property in his lifetime is realised

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, June 20, 2022/APO Group/ --

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour have completed their three-day oversight programme assessing the living conditions of farm dwellers and farm workers in Limpopo.

A committee delegation visited Purekrans Farm 271 KR in Waterberg District, where they met with the Mathye family. Mr Shadrack Mathye started to work at Purekrans Farm at the age of 10, when he joined his parents who worked there. In 2001, he lodged a labour tenant claim with the Department of Agriculture, after receiving an eviction notice from the owner of the farm.

The department started processing the claim after it received it in 2021 by serving the owner with a Section 17 notice in May 2022. The notice informed the farmer of the department’s intention to purchase 343 hectares of the farm on behalf of the Mathye family. The department expects a response from the owner by the end of June, failing which it will take the owner to court for an adjudication.

The committee Chairperson and delegation leader, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, enquired from the department when it expects to finalise the claim, given that the family has been waiting for 21 years. The department responded by saying that it has a target to process 43 applications in Limpopo in this financial year and has allocated a budget of R217 million to finalise the 293 outstanding claims.

The delegation asked the department for a progress report on the claim every three months to ensure that Mr Mathye’s dream of owning this property in his lifetime is realised.

The delegation also visited Krispy Farm in Mookopong, where it found that the farm’s workers are paid R4 900 a month, slightly above the required minimum wage. The farm employs 210 South Africans and 35 foreign nationals, who are being phased out. The farm will only employ South Africans in the future. The committee heard that the farm regularly sends its workers on plant production and packhouse training courses to upskill them.

The delegation was also pleased to hear that the farm owners have employed consultants to assist them to develop a shareholder scheme where employees who have worked on the farm for longer than seven years receive shares.

The delegation also held a public meeting in Mookopong Local Municipality where it heard horrific stories of farm workers being locked out of access to safe drinking water sources. Instead they are forced to take water from contaminated rivers and where animals also drink.

As in other districts, farm workers also complained of being prevented from visiting family grave sites and, therefore, being unable to conduct their cultural rituals. They appealed to the delegation to assist them. They also complained about the lack of suitable land on which to build houses and said they have no running water, sanitation, nor electricity. They also complained about being forcibly evicted from farms.

They told the delegation that certain farmers in the Waterberg area pay them R50 a day to work on farms. They also have no Unemployment Insurance Fund, pension or other benefits. In addition, some farmers in the district only employ foreign nationals.

Inkosi Mandela informed the people that all their submissions are being recorded and will be sent to the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform and the Department of Employment and Labour. The departments will then have to report back to the committee on their responses to the submissions. If the farmworkers do not receive a response, they must follow up with the committee.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.