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Claimants still waiting for the promised land

Author: Nomboniso Gasa

The man’s movements were deliberate as he took the microphone at the recent land tenure summit in Boksburg.

“Minister, we support this summit,” he said. “We, the labour tenants on the farms, feel the pressing hard sole of the farmers on our backs. We, who are dragged on the backs of bakkies, without protection … many of us know no other home. Our parents gave their labour as we give ours. Must our children suffer the same fate? There is no political will to ensure that the laws are adhered to, there are no mechanisms to ensure labour tenants are treated as human beings.

“We are not farm ‘workers’ or ‘dwellers’, we are labour tenants. In Limpopo, where I come from, we have no rights. Farm owners have built game reserves around us. To live in the reserve, we have to report to them … we must sign in and out. I stand here, in front of this gathering, as a man who is not fully a man. I still do not have full control of my movements. I cannot protect my family.”

In a few minutes, this elder had cut through the political and academic jargon and laid bare the reality experienced by many.

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