A once flourishing grape and citrus farm of 480 hectare in Limpopo has been reduced to ruins, and chopped orange trees which were used for firewood.
This is the sad reality Solidarity encountered during a visit to the dilapidated Sunningdale farm, which is located between Mokopane and Polokwane. In 2010, the farm was transferred to the Sunningdale Workers’ Trust by means of a land reform process.
Solidarity visited the farm after it successfully represented its member, Mr Hannes Korff, the former farm manager of 13 years, at the CCMA. The Trust unfairly dismissed him and never paid back a loan he granted the Trust. The Trust owes Mr Korff approximately R400 000.
According to Anton van der Bijl, Head of Solidarity’s Labour Law Division, this is a significant victory for the trade union, but the reality of the decay on the farm is a tragedy for all. He said the farm had once employed approximately 158 workers. Therefore, 158 families – in total approximately 600 people – are not fed because of a disastrous land reform transaction in favour of incompetent beneficiaries.
One often hears about the disastrous consequences of ill-considered land reform transactions, but the reality hits you between the eyes when you stand amidst the dilapidated buildings and see the many irrigation pipes ripped out of the earth rotting in the sun, Van der Bijl added.
According to Mr Korff, the farm will now be auctioned to pay off the debt, but it will cost approximately R50 million to restore the farm to its former glory. This will include the warehouses, farm houses, irrigation system, vineyards and orchards, shading nets, border fences, and 37 boreholes which have been looted and covered with rocks.
Van der Bijl concluded by saying it is important to remember that this tragic demise of a once profitable farm does not only influence the farm manager, the workers and the surrounding area. The farm mainly exported its products and therefore the economy is also hit by this decay.