Thembi Thusi, whose house was destroyed in April last year, breaks down

as she narrates her story to the ministerial team on Sunday.


Hundreds of farm dwellers from farms under uMngeni, Umshwathi and Mpofana municipalities braved the wet and cold weather on Sunday to raise concerns with a contingent of senior officials from the KZN government.

Farm dwellers in uMgungundlovu District Municipality have raised serious concerns about how their human rights are being violated, allegedly by farm owners, who have destroyed their houses, confiscated and killed their livestock, failed to pay salaries and even forced one family to dig up the grave of their child and remove the remains.

Hundreds of farm dwellers from farms under uMngeni, Umshwathi and Mpofana municipalities braved the wet and cold weather on Sunday to raise these concerns with a contingent of senior officials from the KwaZulu-Natal government.

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MEC for Economic Development Siboniso Duma, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza and MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Super Zuma and Mayor of Msunduzi Municipality Mzimkhulu Thebolla held an imbizo at Yarrow Farm outside Howick on Sunday.

Some of the farmer dwellers shed tears while detailing how their rights were being violated at the farms they stay on.

Thembi Thusi, who was born at Yarrow Farm and had been staying there for 45 years, said she hasn’t had a home for over a year after their house was destroyed along with all their furniture and personal documents last year.

Thusi said she reported the matter to the Department of Land Affairs but never received any help.

Another farm dweller, Musawenkosi Ngubane from Braco said they are the fifth generation of his family living at Statton Farm but since 2007, they have been living a “horrific” life.

The combined spheres of government told farm dwellers that they were working on assisting them and promised to buy farms in the area in order to build houses for those living in terrible conditions.

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The provincial government also promised to build a new house for Thusi and her family by June, and to strengthen their legal pursuit against farmers who destroyed houses and confiscated livestock.

Minister Didiza told farm dwellers that the department is working on assisting them and have two acts to support them in their pursuit — the Labour Tenants Acts and Extension of Security of Tenure Act.

Didiza said she knew that people were not happy with some of her department employees and assured that she will address it.

She added that they will commence discussions with the Minister of Police and Minister of Justice for assistance and will return with responses for the farm dwellers.

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MEC Duma said he was on a campaign trail in the last two weeks where he learnt of challenges faced by farm dwellers.

Duma said they will also deal with the attorneys that are working with farmers to violate people’s rights.

“Police officials under uMngeni municipality are scared of white people and do whatever they say. People’s livestock are confiscated illegally but they don’t work on this. We will talk to the Minister of Police to change police officers at these stations and bring those that won’t be scared of white people,” said Duma.

Duma also urged farm dwellers not to sign any documents.

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uMngeni mayor Chris Pappas said he wasn’t invited to the meeting and only learnt about the imbizo on social media.

Pappas said that while in most instances the municipality enjoys a good relationship between land owners and the land tenants who reside on their land, there are some cases where the landowners and the land tenants have “unresolved historical issues” that make it difficult for the municipality to intervene.

He said land reform and land affairs is a provincial and national competency while municipalities have the responsibility to deliver basic services in line with the relevant legislation including the constitution.

“The provincial and national government have failed to make meaningful progress in terms of land-related issues. More money is spent every year on VIP security for ministers and deputy ministers than on land reform and restitution. This is a small indication of their priorities,” said Pappas.

Pappas said they have also seen no progress on issues at the land claims court which creates huge tension and anger between those involved.

He said despite this, uMngeni Municipality has started to roll out development programmes in rural areas and farming villages.

He highlighted that the DA-led uMngeni has provided a number of residents living in mud houses with building material to improve the condition of their homes, have electrified a number of houses in the Dargle area, repaired and built new roads in Balgowan and Karkloof, were currently installing Wifi at two schools and have partnered with the private sector to provide a full library.

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On Sunday, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government handed out gardening tools, school uniforms and bicycles for pupils travelling long distances to schools.

This article was originally published at: The Witness (