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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Water restored to farmworkers after rights commission intervenes

26 November 2018

Cape Town – A single visit by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to Paarl farmworkers whose water had been cut off without reason for the past two weeks led to the taps suddenly being turned back on.
The farmworkers, who live on Marlenique Estate in Simondium, share taps and communal toilets and said they had been cut from the water grid.
SAHRC provincial commissioner Chris Nissen said he had received an invitation from residents at the weekend to visit and help intervene, and when he arrived, some of the taps had been turned back on.
Nissen said farm owner Karl van der Merwe contacted him late yesterday and agreed to set up a meeting this week.
Van der Merwe did not respond to the Cape Times’ requests for comment.
“I tried to get hold of him, but would still like to meet.”
Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation executive director Billy Claasen said he tried to meet with Van der Merwe at the weekend, but he was "rude and dismissive", and instead asked him to leave.
The organisation advocates for the rights of the poor and marginalised.
“I then went to the police station where the workers laid charges against the security guards of One Security Company, who shot at them last night when they protested for water at the gate.
"These farmers pocket a lot of money and get some relief from government or Sars, but they don't look after the workers on the farms.
"We will not tolerate this any further, and the Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation, with the support of Women on Farms, will take this to the international arena and show the world what conditions our farmworkers stay in,” said Claasen.
Drakenstein Municipality spokesperson Riana Geldenhuys said the municipality does not supply water to farms, farmers or farmworkers. She said they received confirmation yesterday that the owner had restored the water supply to the farm's workers.
“From a humanitarian point of view, and especially during the drought, we make drinking water available for Drakenstein’s farmworkers at two points in Paarl and Wellington at a promulgated tariff, which we encourage the farmers to collect for their farmworkers.”

Source: Cape Times

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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