Black Farmers Recall ‘Better’ Conditions Under Apartheid

Residents of the 88 farms under the Gwatyu Communal Property Association told DA party leader Mmusi Maimane at the weekend that living on farms was better during apartheid than in democratic South Africa.

Nowezile Tom, 92, said she had been born on Sofu farm, in Gwatyu and they used to live in good conditions and work on the farms.

“Since the democratic government, we have lost everything. There is no water, no roads, no electricity and no clinic in this area,” she said.

Tom said to get to the nearest clinic they have to pay R400 for transport to get to Cathcart.

“We last saw a mobile clinic four months ago,” she said.

Sdodo Matsheke said they were yet to benefit from the democratic government.

“We are living in worse conditions where we don’t have water or electricity – and the only school here is being closed,” he added.

Matsheke said because of the bad roads, ambulances could not reach the farms and as a result, people died.

Maimane said the state must give farms to the people who stayed on them.

“The situation won’t improve until the people living on the 88 farms own the land. I have noticed that there is no clinic, water, and roads, and this place looks like a graveyard.

“We need to turn it around so people can get all the essential services,” Maimane said.

“We say the government must register the Gwatyu Communal Property Association (CPA) and I will talk to the DA lawyers to force them to register it. I am not making empty promises.”

The DA has been accused of being against land expropriation – something Maimane has denied.

“Compensation is not the reason people don’t get land. People don’t have land because of corruption.”

He said the Gwatyu farms must belong to the people, not the state.

“Let the CPA own this land so when the old people die, they can leave something for their children. I have asked the leaders of the CPA to come and address parliament on the matter. If they don’t listen to you here, they will listen to you in parliament,” Maimane said.

Maimane promised to raise the issues facing Gwatyu residents in parliament and report back to the community when their issues are resolved.

“I will speak to [Basic Education Minister] Angie Motshekga and President Cyril Ramaphosa to stop the nonsense of closing the Forest Range Junior Secondary School and start fixing this road.

“If they close the school, what will happen to these children?”

DA provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga said land must be given to those who want to plant and work on it, so they could create jobs.

Chairwoman Thembakazi Matsheke said the CPA had been founded in 2013 and they were still fighting for it to be registered by the government.

“Our aim is to own the land so we can work it to be the way it used to be when there were white farmers.

“Since the land was taken from the white people, it has deteriorated and nothing is being done to restore it. Government has done nothing to help us,” she said.

Matsheke said none of the residents at the 88 farms had title deeds as the land belonged to the state.

By TEMBILE SGQOLANA /Herald Live