Farmer union takes issue with expropriation comments

Since the beginning of the year not a single illegal farm eviction has been reported to farming union AgriSA, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The union was responding to remarks by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs Dirk du Toit that farmers who illegally evicted tenant workers would have their land expropriated.

AgriSA’s president Lourie Bosman said they were planning to take up the threat with President Thabo Mbeki.

“Du Toit’s statement is a continuation of malicious political point-scoring against farmers and the industry,” he said.

He pointed to a mutual understanding the union has with Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs Lulu Xingwana that if illegal evictions took place they would inform one another, and said this has not yet happened this year.

AgriSA’s subsidiary, AgriGauteng, went even further, calling du Toit an “uninformed lackey” who was not aware of the realities of South Africa’s farming community.

“Those people who don’t want to hear. We are not only going to take them to court, we are going to also take their land away from them,” Du Toit told MPs in the National Assembly.

Responding to a question, he described the eviction of farm workers as a “medieval practice that just continues and continues”.

But AgriGauteng denied this accusation, saying the opposite was true and that the majority of farmers were living in harmony with farm workers and were working together to build a better South Africa.

The farming union admitted there was a “very small minority” of farmers who might be guilty of illegally evicting farm workers, but said it was unfair to pretend that it was the whole industry.

Neels Ferreira, chairperson of Grain South Africa, expressed his shock and disbelief about Du Toit’s comments, saying the “emotional” statement was not in the interest of agriculture in the country.

He said there were laws that could be used against those who made themselves guilty of misconduct or abuse.—Sapa

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