For­mer staff claim that Athol Trol­lip and his fam­ily per­pe­trated hu­man rights abuses on their farm

CityPress - - News - LUBA­BALO NGCUKANA luba­balo.ngcukana@city­

Athol Trol­lip and his fam­ily have been ac­cused by their for­mer work­ers of al­legedly per­pe­trat­ing hu­man rights abuses, be­ing racist and us­ing un­fair labour prac­tices on their fam­ily farm in the East­ern Cape. Seven for­mer farm work­ers and their rel­a­tives have made state­ments ac­cus­ing the Trol­lip fam­ily – in­clud­ing Athol, the DA fed­eral chair­per­son and may­oral can­di­date of the hotly con­tested Nelson Man­dela Bay Metro – of mis­treat­ing them while they were em­ployed at Mount Prospect farm near Bed­ford.

City Press ob­tained copies of the state­ments sub­mit­ted to the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion this week.

Trol­lip de­nies all the al­le­ga­tions.

Al­though the com­plaints are di­rected mainly at Trol­lip’s late father, Dou­glas, some work­ers al­lege the abuses con­tin­ued when Trol­lip took over.

Vusumzi David Kota (57) worked for Trol­lip’s grand­fa­ther Athol se­nior; his father, Dou­glas; and Athol ju­nior be­tween 1975 and 2005 – when Athol sold the farm. Athol was in charge of Mount Prospect from the 1980s, Kota said.

Kota claimed that the Trol­lips called him a “ba­boon” and “a mon­key”.

“Dou­glas and even Athol Trol­lip would call us ba­boons if you did some­thing wrong at work,” he said. He said Athol Trol­lip would say: “Wenze iz­into zobum­fene [You acted like a ba­boon].”

He said Athol was bet­ter to work for than his father be­cause he did not chase work­ers away and was some­times “nice and chatty”.

Now liv­ing in Pola Park, out­side Bed­ford, with his two chil­dren, Kota claims he worked from 6am to 6pm and was paid R200 a month un­til Trol­lip sold the farm. His wife, Eu­nice, who worked for Trol­lip as a do­mes­tic worker, died af­ter a short ill­ness and is buried there.

Kota claimed that when he stopped work­ing at the farm, Trol­lip gave him R15 000, say­ing the money was for him and his wife’s pen­sion for the time they had worked for him.

The best thing Trol­lip did for him, Kota said, was to or­gan­ise a tem­po­rary house for him af­ter his roof was blown off by a tor­nado in 2014. Now when he sees Trol­lip, he gets an­gry.

“I don’t know how he can be a mayor of any town when he could not be a mayor of his own farm. The houses we lived in were not in good con­di­tion. We did not have toi­lets. We had to use the bush,” he said.

He also claimed they were forced to ad­dress Dou­glas Trol­lip as “mas­ter”.

Timi (78) and Regina (76) Ntabeni also used to work on the Trol­lip’s farm. Regina was a do­mes­tic worker, while Timi was a trac­tor driver.

Regina claimed Athol Trol­lip called her im­fene (ba­boon) when he asked her to find a spice bot­tle in the kitchen and she couldn’t lo­cate it. “He then said: ‘Uy­im­fene noba dana? [Are you a ba­boon or what?].’” They al­lege they re­ceived noth­ing when they left the farm and now face evic­tion from their four­room house in Pola Park. Timi said all they wanted was for Trol­lip to ac­knowl­edge his past and maybe help them buy a house of their own.

An­other com­plainant, Zi­bele James Mx­aku (81), said he was born at Mount Prospect farm, which was later merged with the nearby Dag­gaboer farm.

An emo­tional Mx­aku spoke of how he was em­ployed at the age of 14 or 15 in the late 1940s and was given maize and R1 a month as wages. Mx­aku claimed Dou­glas fired him and he was forced to leave his live­stock be­hind.

“I owned about eight cat­tle. I left all of them there. I was chased like a dog and po­lice were called on me. I had in­her­ited the cat­tle from my father,” he said.

Senzi Nt­send­wana (70) claimed she was forced to leave school at the age of 14 to work for Trol­lip’s par­ents as a do­mes­tic worker.

“When he got mar­ried, I was al­ready work­ing there. I con­tin­ued work­ing there when the cou­ple had their first child, a daugh­ter, and in later years, a son [Athol].

“What hurts me is that even when I see him to­day here in Uiten­hage, he would not say any­thing. This is de­spite the fact that I raised him and looked af­ter his home. We just greet each other walk­ing past,” she said.


Senzi Nt­send­wana

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