By Jamie-Leigh Matroos | SA Breaking News 6/10/14

Trade union federation Cosatu has threatened to stage massive protests in the Western Cape if farm owners continue the large scale eviction of farmworkers from their land.

“A failure on the part of farm owners to respond to these cautions will see renewed protest across Western Cape farms with this extending to the rest of the country given the large scale humanitarian crisis caused by evictions,” said Cosatu provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, in a statement on Monday.

Ehrenreich said the recent land reform proposals announced by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti earlier this year have resulted in unintended consequences for farm workers. Nkwinti proposed that long-term farm workers be given a 50% equity share of the farms on which they worked, to speed up land reform.

“Farm workers have no alternative but to defend their rights and the livelihoods of their families, from farm owners who have maintained the historical hostility that they first displayed when the grand land theft from indigenous people first commenced in South Africa,” said Ehrenreich.

Ehrenreich called on the government to intervene before the situation escalates to an all out conflict in the agriculture sector:

“This continued evictions of farm workers and the disregard of the intention of the law by racist farm owners both Black and White will see renewed war for justice in the Agricultural Sector, because the call for urgent mitigating steps were ignored,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said meetings between government and farming unions are planned for this week with the aim of finding solutions to farmworker evictions.

According to a report on Eyewitness News, Ramaphosa expressed concern at the rate at which workers were being evicted from their homes in the Paarl, Boland area.

“Mass evictions should not be taking place in a democratic South Africa,” he said. “I’d like more of the information to be put together and I am prepared, together with the minister that we should immediately act on this.”