ANC condemns human rights violations on Western Cape Farms

1 September 2017

The ANC Study Group on Rural Development and Land Reform is alarmed by yesterday's massive protest action by various women organisations against the Western Cape Department of Labour. The mass protest of over 300 women from various rural areas around the Western Cape revealed the horrendous gross human rights violations committed by farm owners and managers in the province.

The lack of ablution facilities, poor working conditions, low wages and violent treatment by farm owners were raised as serious grievances by the protestors. There are also major gender based disparities with men being employed as permanent workers while women are employed as seasonal workers for 4 - 6 months. The ongoing victimisation and exploitation of women farm workers in the Western Cape is exacerbated by the absence of a clear strategy from the DA-led provincial administration to improve the conditions of farm workers in the province.

Illegal farm evictions have also been on the rise in the Western Cape. The Office of the Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nessen is dealing with almost 20 illegal farm eviction cases in the Ceres, Somerset West and Worcester areas. These illegal evictions take place in the most brutal manner with farm owners unilaterally packing the belongings of their evictees on a truck without their knowledge or consent.

Cases of labour and human rights violations ranging from assault, injury on duty, racial discrimination and unfair dismissals have been reported to the Western Cape Department of Labour. Some workers even reported that they are paid in 'kind' with tobacco and alcohol instead of monetary wages and no action being taken in aid of their plight. Thus making the provincial administration complicit in the ongoing mistreated of farm workers in this province.

We call on all departments to heed calls by farms workers not only in the Western Cape but across the country where farm workers' rights are trampled upon. As the ANC we cannot idly watch while 2.8 million farm dwellers, workers and occupiers continue to toil in the dungeons of the most exploitative farm conditions.

As the ANC in Parliament we look forward to the proclamation of the Extension of Security of Tenure (ESTA) Amendment Bill which was recently passed by the National Assembly to ensure that the conditions of farm dwellers and occupiers is improved and to combat the arbitrary nature in which farm workers and dwellers are treated.

Issued by the Whip of the ANC Study Group on Rural Development and Land Reform, Pumzile J. Mnguni

Nonceba Mhlauli
Media Liaison Officer
072 623 3462