Tension is mounting between farmers and the Phulo-e-Teng Farmers’ Association in the North West. The farmers accuse members of the association of intimidation and trespassing after they allegedly invaded their farms. The independent farmers are leasing the land from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.
Fifty-four-year-old David Phuduhudu is a livestock farmer. He claims to have lost 50 head of cattle after his farm was invaded.
“The fact that they want me to get out of here by taking my cattle is really frustrating. They always bring things here at the farm and tell me to leave the farm because it belongs to them,” says Phuduhudu.
Another farmer says tensions have taken a violent turn.
“When they came to me, they just started attacking me and even hurt my hand and telling me that I should never go back to that farm because I don’t want to cooperate with the people they have put in the farm. But it seems that opening trespassing cases has caused more problems because now the community threatens us and tells us to get out of their land,” explains Keiponye Khutlang.
The Phulo-e-Teng Farmers’ Association, whose members are accused of farm invasions, say the land leased to the farmers is communal land that ought to benefit the entire community.
“Land Affairs has taken our land without consulting us so we take our land back. So we are not going to be apologetic to those who are staying in our land because they don’t want to even listen to us,” says a member of the association.
“We were never given a report or any explanation about how our land was taken away from the tribal authority. Now we have taken our cattle to the Morna 2 Farm but the police have taken them and we don’t know where our cattle are,” adds another.
Farmers’ Association accused of land invasion:
Provincial authorities have condemned the farm invasions.
“Members of the communities are forming groups to invade state farms illegally. In January, such a group invaded a nearby state land and farms, which were bought during the homeland era through the South African Development Trust. Such state farms were bought for emerging Black farmers and are being used by Black farmers from the same areas. The department is pleading with farmers to abide by the administration processes. The government will also continue to develop communal areas under administrations of chiefs,” says the Land Reform Department’s Richard Keothaile.
Police say two people have been charged and appeared in court for trespassing, while a case of malicious damage to property is being investigated.