Laws exist to protect farm tenants, but on paper only
Farm dwellers remain among the most vulnerable people in society, write Lauren Royston and Nokuthula Mthimunye
Zithulele Mabhida Mkhize was born and grew up on a farm in the Mkhambathini area of KwaZulu-Natal. He still lives there, with two sisters, a brother and his mother. Their tenure is insecure and their livelihoods are precarious. The law offers them protection, but they can’t access their rights without going to court. When Mabhida was at primary school, he lost his father, who was the breadwinner of the family. As the eldest son, he left school and did piece jobs to support his mother and siblings. Over the years, his mother got sick and could no longer work on the farm. As a result, the landowner tried to evict them. When he failed, he ordered the destruction of their mud house and they were forcibly relocated to a house on the farm from where the owner again tried to evict them. The owner then employed a security company to force them into two rooms and brought other farm workers into the house and they were compelled to share the space. Mabhida has taken the matter to court but th...