The land issue remains a serious challenge for many farm dwellers and farm workers in Mpumalanga.
Many complain about their living conditions and believe expropriation of land without compensation, will bring an end to their suffering at the hands of farm owners.
At the same time, however, there are also those who say they enjoy a good relationship with farm owners.
The South African government still needs to do more to improve the lives of farm workers and farm dwellers, who remain among the most vulnerable people in society.
In 2017, the Office of the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commission backed the Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Bill, saying it would protect the rights of farm dwellers and workers.
They made their submission to Parliament’s Rural Development and Land Reform Portfolio Committee.
The Bill seeks to prevent evictions, to create stability in farming communities and to protect the rights of workers and farm dwellers.
However, it appears that infighting still continues on some farms.
Koos Mtshweni, a farm dweller from Bethel, near Secunda, is at loggerheads with the owner of the farm where he lives.
The farmer reportedly wants to evict him. Mtshweni says he’s been suffering for many years and claims he lost over a hundred cows two years ago after they were allegedly poisoned by the farm owner.
“I have lost almost everything, my cows were poisoned by this farmer, nothing happens to him, people were hired to kill me and the matter keeps on being postponed, there is no justice at all.”
But Mtshweni refuses to leave the farm. It’s alleged the farm owner hired some hit men to end Mtshweni’s life.
Police say investigations were conducted and the farmer, believed to be the main suspect, was arrested.
Mpumalanga Police spokesperson, Leonard Hlathi says:”As we speak we managed to arrest a person whom we believe must answer before the court, the matter will go on trial on the 28 of November. Some of the alleged hit men have turned to be state witnesses for the case.”
Meanwhile, 63-year-old Khumbuzile Madonsela from the Taaibos farm in Driefontain, near Mkhondo, has a good relationship with the farmer in the area.
She says the farmer has installed water and electricity for the community.
“Now is the farming season he is going to come and plough and plant for us, we were using our hands before but now life is much better.”
Agricultural unions representing farm owners in Mpumalanga are against the idea of land expropriation without compensation.
They say it’s already causing uncertainty and driving away potential investors.
Mpumalanga Agriculture, which falls under the banner of AgriSA, represents about 700 commercial farmers in the province.
They say they’re doing their best to ensure that there is a good relationship between farm owners and farm dwellers. Robert Davel speaks on behalf of the union.
“Expropriation of land without compensation already there is uncertainty, people will not invest in an environment where they are not sure what is going to happen, even on the land hearing. We have come up with alternatives , not to change the of section 25 of the constitution.”
In 2011, Parliament heard that more than 1-million farm workers and dwellers had been evicted or displaced between 1994 and 2004.