Farm workers protest over ‘abuse’

Mangetti-More than 100 workers at Namibia Development Corporation's (NDC) Mangetti Kavango Cattle Ranch (KCR) in Kavango West yesterday held a peaceful demonstration lamenting their working conditions and alleged bad treatment and abuse at the hands of ranch manager, one Du Toit and his wife. The manager's wife is in charge of human resources at the ranch. Last year workers similarly protested the same issues but no intervention came from NDC.

Their petition was handed to Joseph Sivaku, the councillor of Tondoro Constituency, in which the ranch falls. The manager and his wife locked themselves in their house during the demonstration and no NDC staffer from the head office showed up despite them being invited.

In their petition, temporary and permanent employees of KCR said as the entire staff at large they have a great concern towards their manager and his wife who have made their lives a living hell despite several demonstrations over the years, which appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

We have worked on this project for many years with a lot of problems and suffering because of this couple and we are still living in this situation without an intervention. Du Toit treats us, the employees, unfairly and uses us as his own farm workers. He adjusts salaries of employees that he and his wife favour most. Mr and Mrs Du Toit make decisions in their own interest without consulting employees and other stakeholders, workers stated in their petition that was read by Mathias Sirunda on their behalf.

Their petition further stated that many employees have sustained injuries while on duty but the manager does not take action for a remedy and neither rushes the injured to hospital.

Two years ago an incident happened at the ranch when one contract worker was bitten to death by a snake, dying instantly. He was buried like a dog as if he never worked here. His family tried to talk to Du Toit to do something as the manager but he refused to do anything to assist the family in burying him, Sirunda said.

According to workers, one colleague lost all his teeth in an accident at work but he was not assisted by the manager to get medical assistance and neither to lodge a claim with the Social Security Commission.

With all these problems we have decided to inform you that we do not want to continue working with Du Toit and his wife, they must be transferred or resign. Failure to do so will result in us downing tools as he has made our lives miserable.

The workers pleaded with the councillor of Tondoro Constituency to assist them in their issues as for many years they have raised their concerns and suffering but yet no change has come about.

Councillor Sivaku, after receiving the petition, told them he was going to forward it to the NDC head office and do follow-ups from time to time as the matter needs urgent intervention.

I'm now going to forward your grievances to the NDC officials who didn't make time to come here to receive this petition, but for now you should all get back to work and continue to work peacefully while we wait for an intervention from the NDC management, as well as the government, Sivaku said.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia