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3 Jun 2022

Ernest Mabuza, Times Live (South Africa)

S. Africa: Parliamentarians demand urgent intervention to prevent human rights violations by farmers and mining companies in communities

‘MPs hear tales of abuse of farm dwellers by farmers, mines’ 31 May 2022

A delegation of parliamentarians heard allegations that some farmers in Mpumalanga banned farm dwellers from keeping livestock, poisoned water and grazing lands, shot people and stole animals belonging to the farm dwellers. There were also of hundreds of families in the province who could be evicted from their land by mining companies and farmers. The delegation, which visited the province at the weekend, wants these allegations of abuse, forced evictions and criminality directed at farm dwellers to be investigated by the authorities. It also wants an urgent intervention to prevent human rights violations.

The joint parliamentary delegation of the portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development and the portfolio committee on employment and labour conducted an oversight visit to the province’s Nkangala and Gert Sibande districts. The purpose of the visit was to assess the living conditions of farm dwellers and the working environment on the farms. The delegation visited the Sindane family, which is engaged in a legal battle with mining giant Exxaro, after the company bought the farm on which the family has lived for more than 60 years. The delegation said the mining company tried to evict the family from the farm, but it is challenging the eviction order and they are now living surrounded by mining operations.

…Chairperson of the portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development Mandla Mandela condemned the injustice and inhumane treatment of farm dwellers and the failure to handle eviction matters fairly. “Mining houses make billions but cut corners when it comes to compensating people; it is not fair,” Mandela said. In Piet Retief, MPs said, they were appalled by the story of the Hadebe family, who have been living in a local community hall for almost 13 years, after they were evicted from a farm where the family had lived for more than 100 years. Their livestock was stolen, their crops and seeds destroyed and they were shot at during the forced removal…Other families say that the farmers found them in those areas and established farms in their ancestral lands.