The South African Federation of Trade Unions condemns in the strongest terms the murder of a 32-year-old farm worker on a farm in Tarlton, outside Krugersdorp. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has charged a security official for the killing.
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubela said the farmworker was shot after he allegedly stole a tractor. Pictures of the worker, who lay in a pool of blood on the tractor, has since been shared widely on social media. Fellow workers claim he was killed for using the tractor to fetch lunch from his house.
A Facebook post from Sediko Rakolote reads: ”Killed….Killed…..Killed. Black farm worker who is a tractor driver killed by the farm owner. Just because he used the tractor during lunch to go get something for him to eat. His death might not be in the mainstream media because of obvious reasons. A breadwinner, father, uncle, brother was killed,”.
SAFTU sends its condolences to the family and fellow-workers of the farm worker and demands that the perpetrator be brought to justice.
This is just the latest in a long list of atrocities committed against black farm workers which began in the era of colonialism and apartheid but continues to this day.
The federation full agrees with Gauteng MEC for economic development, environment agriculture and rural development, Lebogang Maile, that “the killing of farm workers paints an ugly picture of racialised violence.”
As SAFTU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, said to the Congress of the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural & Allied Workers’ Union on 24 November 2017: “Farm workers are routinely beaten up, ‘mistaken for baboons’, shot at in cold blood, evicted and dismissed without a hearing, made to work long hours without compensation, made to work daily including Sundays and public holidays, etc.
“At times farm owners are so powerful and farm workers so powerless that even when they report murders, beatings and rape at the hands of their bosses they find the very perpetrators manning police stations as police reservists and who beat them even more for daring to report them. The Department of Labour inspectors at times are so easily bribed to look on the other side in the face of these abuses.”
SAFTU and its affiliates will be taking to the streets to protest against the ongoing racial violence and abuse of farm workers, and others in the growing army of workers whose lives have become a struggle to survive on poverty wages, no job security and employers who exploit and abuse them.
The federation has set it self the task of organising and mobilising these workers to fight back and put an end to the super-exploitation by employers who believe they still live in the past and have the right to treat workers like this victim of murder in Krugersdorp.