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Farm evictions rock E Cape

City Press
14 May 2000

EVICTED farmworkers in the Albany district of the Eastern Cape have claimed farmers are using brute force to force them off farms and out of jobs.

Their claims, backed up by agricultural researchers and Albany ANC officials, included the callous treatment of relatives of at least two farm workers who died in farm accidents.

In one case, it is alleged the wife of a worker was evicted without benefits only two months after her husband was killed in a farming accident.

An evicted worker interviewed in Grahamstown's Rini township, said his family was now struggling to make ends meet and was enduring the discomfort of being crammed into his brother's two-roomed house after being evicted.

The house was now occupied by four adults and his toddler.

He said he was evicted from the farm after laying a charge of assault against the farmer, and going to the department of manpower to force the farmer to give him a UIF card.

Thobile Tatana (32) alleged his landlord Terrence Connellan assaulted him with fists and kicked him for feeding the pigs and horses at the "wrong time".

Tatana said the problem started when he laid a charge against another "coloured worker" after he assaulted him and his wife.

When contacted by ECN, Connellan's legal firm Sabata, Loon and Connellan refused to comment on the matter.

Eastern Cape agricultural research project field worker Xolani Baqwa said the harrassment and eviction of farm workers was on the increase in the Eastern Cape. He linked evictions to changing farming patterns, particularly the move towards game farming.

Albany region ANC deputy secretary Bonisile Nesi said evictions and maltreatment of farmworkers was rife. - ECN Weekend

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