The South African Federation of Trade Unions is appalled and outraged by the allegations made against an Ekurhuleni employer and his family of horrific acts inflicted on a worker, including forcing him to drink 2 litres of faeces before attempting to drown him in a septic tank.
Neighbours have described the farm in Springs as a place of constant torture, humiliation and physical abuse by those who have worked for the farmer. They call the farmer and his family “monsters”, bullies and horrible neighbours.
The worker who was employed as a mechanic for the family claims the farmer and his son tortured him on 9 December after he failed to switch on the engine of a septic tank pump machine. They allegedly started swearing at him and called him a “useless k*****”.
“His son tightly held my hands behind my back and dragged me towards the sewer hole. His father took a big jug, dipped it in the sewer hole and forced me to drink its contents while calling me a k*****. He did the same thing twice and I was powerless to fight them back”
He claims to have then been thrown into the sewer hole but managed to crawl out 30 minutes later after he grabbed and held on to a loose piece of rope. “I was already covered in filth. I tried several times to push the lid open but someone was pushing it down. The whole thing lasted for some time until I eventually got out.”
He went to his room in the workers’ quarters where he washed himself and even drank cooking oil to loosen his bowels. “Some of the faeces I drank was starting to come out anally as I was bathing. I felt so humiliated and sick,” he said. He was only allowed to leave the next evening after he was locked in the yard.
SAFTU is also outraged that the Springs Police allegedly initially refused to open a case when he reported the incident. A policewoman allegedly told him that he would get arrested for operating a septic tank. “I couldn’t believe a fellow black person was telling me this,” he said.
He then took the case to the Equality Court in Germiston where he was advised to make a sworn affidavit and take it back to the Springs Police Station. The federation welcomes the fact that Springs police spokesperson Warrant Officer Johannes Ramphora expressed shock at his colleagues’ conduct, has opened a case of crimen injuria against the farm owner and his son and launched an internal investigation into the allegations of the police officer’s refusal to open a case.
Abuse of farm workers is still a massive scandal in South Africa. Boy Rapabi, who recently got fired from the same company, said physical and emotional abuse was a daily occurrence on the farm and the family had become a law unto themselves.
“I’ve been slapped by the son several times for no apparent reason. The last time he hit me in November it was because he wanted me to look at him straight in the eyes when he was talking to me. It’s hell to work for them but we do it because we have families to feed.”
The farm owner has a pending case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after he shot at three people who had been cutting wood near his house in May last year.
SAFTU demands that the SAPS and the courts take the strongest possible action to prosecute and punish these offenders, and that Department of Labour inspectors investigate the working condition on this farm.
These incidents confirm how crucial it is for vulnerable workers like these, and all farm workers, to be recruited into trade unions and get organized so that this kind of racist and violent and abuse by employers can be stopped.
The federation urges workers to demonstrate when this case comes to court to show our utter disgust at the family’s unspeakable brutality against workers.