6 November 2012

South Africa: Statement On De Doorns Farm Protest From the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson

press release

The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson is deeply distressed at images of mass, violent protest and is calling for calm and an end to looting and violence at the latest mass protest in De Doorns, in the Western Cape.

A couple of weeks ago the Minister received a letter of complaint from farm workers in the same area. In the letter, the farm workers complained of intimidation and for being prevented from gathering both in the farms and even in their places of residence. The farm workers were barred from speaking about unionising or even negotiating their wages. While a temporary solution was found, it now transpires that there are several other underlying problems in farms in the area.

"The prolonged violence and the looting of shops has to come to end. All parties must sit down and negotiate in a peaceful manner," said the Minister. The Minister has deployed officials from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to assess the situation in De Doorns.

The Minister remains convinced that the underlying issues on farms call for an urgent undertaking to improve the lives of farm workers and the communities they live in. We are aware of the issues that plague farm workers and urge that solutions that will seek to improve the lives of farm workers and farmers will be reached. Farm workers are a vital link to food security in our country, and while the majority of the country is food secure, the highest levels of food insecurity are found in rural areas.

Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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