Attacks on farmworkers increasing

South African farmworkers are increasingly becoming the victims of farm attacks, in addition to the already high numbers of attacks on, and murders of, farmers and their immediate families.

Attacks on farmworkers increasing
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This was the view of the Agricultural, Food, Fishing and Retail Industry Workers’ Union (AFRIWU), following news of the recent violent attack on two Free State farmworkers.

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The Safety Desk of agricultural union Free State Agriculture (FSA), reported that husband and wife, Jan and Mogobo Makgetla, who work on Jakkalsdraai farm in the Hertzogville area, were attacked by what are believed to have been stock thieves.

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According to their employer, Sarel Bornman, in the early hours of Saturday, 25 March 2017, he was attending to an attempt by stock thieves to steal his sheep. The Makgetlas had come out to assist Bornman, and the local police also attended to the scene, but no suspects were found.

FSA said that the Makgetlas were walking back to their house after the police had left, when they were ambushed by four suspects who had been hiding in nearby bushes.

Jan was reportedly severely assaulted and stabbed twice, while Mogoba was severely beaten.

“I have been struggling with stock theft at least once a week for the past three months. My people were badly hurt. Jan told me that they kicked and hit him so hard that he thought they were going to kill him,” Bornman said.

According to FSA, after being treated at a local hospital, the Makgetlas returned to Jakkalsdraai to recuperate. However, Bornman told Farmer’s Weekly that Jan had since been readmitted to hospital after his injuries took a turn for the worse.

“My staff are very fearful now. They don’t want to go out of their houses at night. They’ve had stones thrown at them and have had their chickens stolen. FSA says that it is arranging trauma counselling for all of them through Agri Securitas.”

Bornman said that he and other farmers in the Hertzogville area were disappointed that the local SAPS appeared unwilling, or did not have the resources, to effectively maintain rural safety and security there. He also said that the local police station had only one vehicle to patrol both the town and its rural surrounds.

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Lloyd Phillips joined Farmer’s Weekly in January 2003 and is now a Senior Journalist with the publication. He spent most of his childhood on a Zululand sugarcane farm where he learned to speak fluent Zulu. After matriculating in 1993, Lloyd dreamed of working as a nature conservationist. Life’s vagaries, however, had different plans for him and Lloyd ended up sampling various jobs in South African agriculture before becoming a proud member of the Farmer’s Weekly team.