SA farm abuse case in false start

Beitbridge Bureau
The case in which a South African farmer from Limpopo province is charged for assaulting and kidnapping several Zimbabwean workers and firing 300 others for demanding pay for overtime, has been moved from Villa Nora to Liphalale Magistrate Court.

The trial, which was set to start yesterday, will now be heard in Liphalale town on January 28.

At least 90 of the Zimbabweans who were left stranded earlier last month at Liphalale Police Station are still holed up at Water Base Disaster Management Centre, where a non-governmental organisation, Gift of the Care Givers, is catering for their welfare.

The farmer and proprietor of Johannesburg Farm in Liphalale area, Mr T J Van der Walt, and nine other top managers were charged by police for assault and kidnapping of the Zimbabweans.

The workers’ spokesperson, who is a former foreman at the farm, Mr Thembani Ndlovu, said the Department of Labour was representing them in the matter.

“The matter has been transferred to Liphalale town and we are very hopeful that we will succeed,” he said.

“The department of labour is assisting us in ensuring that justice prevails and that Mr Van der Walt pays the money he owes us.”

Mr Ndlovu said most of the victims were still at the Water Base Disaster Management centre, though others have started seeking employment opportunities in other towns.

He said most of the victims had been employed at the farm since 2005.

Mr Ndlovu said Mr Van der Walt was the one who processed their work permits, though most of them had expired.

“The Zimbabwe Consulate sent a team to assess the situation last month and promised to help us recover our money,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s consul general Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro was not available for comment yesterday.

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