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Johannesburg - The last farmworker to abandon National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise's farm said his family was forced to leave because they faced starvation, the Sunday Times reported.
In a statement on Saturday afternoon, issued on Modise's behalf, claims that farmworkers abandoned the farm due to ill treatment were dismissed as “baseless and malicious”.
According to the report, Tebogo Moekaedi spent 47 days on the farm, and was told by his predecessor to feed the pigs only every second day to eke out the pig feed left on the farm.
His predecessor also warned that he had only received R800 in payment for three months work.
Last Saturday, police and officials of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) went to the farm, where they found dead and dying animals, including pigs, sheep, geese, goats and ducks.
It appeared the animals had been without water and food for around two weeks. There were no farmworkers on the property, no electricity, and the water pumps were broken.
According to the report, Moekaedi's wife, Makgotso Vanwyk, and their one-year-old child joined him on the farm.
A North West provincial government employee Nimrod “Koroba” Tlhoaele, who recruited Moekaedi to work on the farm, gave them a 10kg bag of mealie meal. As time went on, the supply of mealie meal and animal feed dwindled.
When the livestock began dying, Tlhoaele reportedly told Moekaedi to throw the corpses into a deep pit.
“We filled that hole to the top with pigs and cows. I thought then even we are going to die here.”
Moekaedi eventually approached a worker on a neighbouring farm for help. He gave them a small amount of mealie meal, some tea and R5 airtime.
Moekaedi then phoned his mother, who sent him the money needed for the family to escape the farm.
Modise's spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday night.
However, in a statement on Saturday spokesman Neo Moepi described the farmworkers' decision to leave the farm as “bizarre” and “inexplicable”.
“New information suggesting that former North West premier Thandi Modise's detractors visited her Modderfontein farm outside Potchefstroom without her knowledge in the weeks leading to workers abandoning her farm has been referred to her lawyers.
“The development confirms the suspicion that the inexplicable action of the workers which resulted in the tragic incident on Modise's farm was influenced by her detractors acting in concert with those who had a personal score to settle with her in order to tarnish her image.”
The reason of the farmworkers abandoning the farm, the cause of a veld fire in the area and what caused power and water supply to the farm to fail were being investigated by a team appointed by Modise.
“She has expressed shock at the unfortunate incident and committed to fully co-operate with the SPCA and any other authorities that are investigating the neglect of animals on her farm.” - Sapa