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COSATU: Statement by Solly Phetoe, Congress of South African Trade Unions spokesperson, on farmer attacks (29/09/2009)

29th September 2009

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The Congress of South African Trade Unions condemns the continuation of farmers' attacks, shootings and assaults on farm workers and dwellers, in particular in Swartruggens and Lichtenburg.

On 24th September 2009 a farm worker, Oupa Mokgalagadi, was allegedly shot by farmer Jan Wessels Vandenberg, whom we were told was not arrested due to his being hospitalized. But in the same condition he was able to shoot Oupa on the night of 24 September 2009. This is unfair justice to the poor farm workers and their families and it presents a clear picture of what we have been saying - that racism is there in Lichtenburg in the farms and the Departments of Safety and Justice, especially when the victims are farm workers and dwellers.

The same farmer was able to go and shoot this farm worker while he is in pain from a stomach operation At the Mmabatho High Court, the same farmer was a bail of R6 000.00. This is a clear picture of how black farm workers are treated by the Department of Justice.

A farm worker who was lost since 9 June 2005 in the farm at Amalia next to Vryburg was found dead this year 2009. The farmer, Nick Van Rensburg, was found guilty at Vryburg high court on 22 September 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in jail. When he appealed against the sentence he was granted bail of R30 000 on Friday 25 September 2009. This is the picture of people who have money and think that they can kill and pay.

At Swartruggens a pregnant woman farm worker was assaulted by a farmer on 28 September 2009 after having an argument with the supervisor and now she is currently in a bad condition. The Swartruggens police station refused to register the case, and they opted a peacemaking approach, which has currently created a situation of constructive dismissal of a worker, Martha Modisane, who is at home.

COSATU blames those who are able to go public in the media with denial of this racist practice, which is led by farmers. Agri North West, Agri-forum and the spokesperson from the national Human Rights Commission must take responsibility for this bad situation in the farms.

Once again COSATU members will be back at Schweizer-Reneke magistrates' court on 2nd October 2009 to demonstrate when a farmer, Mr. Van Wyk, who allegedly shot a farm worker on 21st July 2009, claiming to have mistaken him for a guinea fowl, appears in court. This is how we are treated as black Africans after 15years in democracy. We shall be demanding the withdrawal of his bail.

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