Address by Mr ML Filtane, MP in the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
Honourable Speaker and Honourable members
I wish to preface my contribution to this debate by saying that the United Democratic Movement (UDM) is keenly aware of the plight of farmers who have fallen victim to what we generally call “farm attacks”. The UDM, without reservation, condemns these acts of violence and murder, and lawlessness that has the daily characteristics of our communities but we wish to direct your attention to “another kind” of “farm attack”.
On Friday the 25th of March 2016 – on a Good Friday – and ironically in Human Rights Month, a six-year-old boy was attacked by a baboon on a farm near Richmond; leaving him in critical condition.
In addition to the attack on a human being, the baboons had endlessly destroyed the crops of the families living on the land. They were continuously exposed to physical danger and food insecurity, thus degrading their humanity and condemning them to poverty. The UDM is still repulsed by reports that the farmer had ignored the multiple warnings of the farm dwellers.
The recent shooting of a farmworker in Limpopo by a farm owner claiming to have mistook him for a monkey, is another example of where farm workers and dwellers are treated as less than human.
These examples are a clear indication that the relationship between farm dwellers, workers and owners, is at its lowest ebb. The lives of farmworkers and dwellers are not taken seriously by the land owners and they even give animals better treatment, and protection, than they do their workers whom they pay meagre wages.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) confirmed these observations when they briefed the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform in February 2017. They conducted site inspections, some unannounced, on farms throughout the Country and found, amongst others, that:
• There is a challenge in accessing privately-owned farms in the Western Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo;
• There have been several complaints relating to water and sanitation access on farms;
• There has been a lack of access to food and electricity for farm dwellers;
• Several farm families were allegedly forcibly removed from a farm in the Breede River Valley and placed in an informal settlement known as Spookie Town; and that
• In Limpopo there is a prevalence of hate speech where farm workers are still called by the k – word.
Farm workers and their families must be freed from continuous physical, social and economic isolation. Government needs to speed up its programmes aimed ensuring that farming families have access to services such as schools, healthcare, decent housing, water, sanitation and others.
As a society, we must continue with our efforts to ensure the peaceful and mutually beneficial co-existence of farmers and farm workers; including the surrounding communities. A stern warning against the violation of human rights on farms must be issued. This kind of behaviour must be rejected by all of us and it must come to an end.
An integrated approach must be adopted to ensure that the lives of farmers, farm workers and dwellers are supremely respected.
It is time for us to join hands in the movement that work towards finding lasting solutions to the socio-economic challenges that face the farming communities in our country.
South Africa must belong to all who live in – it both in word and in deed.