LIFE on a farmworker’s wages is difficult and it becomes more even challenging when the wages only come for six months of the year, says mother-of-two Francis Nel.
Nel, 32, was one of a handful of farmworkers who were recipients of new houses handed over by Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela in Stofland near De Doorns yesterday.
The informal settlement was the scene of last year’s violent protest by farmworkers demanding better wages.
Nel and her husband Luyanda work on a grape farm in the Hex River Valley and earn R105 a day each.
She has been living on the farm all her life and started work in her teens harvesting grapes.
Although she is now the proud owner of a new home which she will share with her husband and two daughters, Nel says it is a struggle for her family to make a decent living.
Her husband works on the farm full-time, but she works for only six months of the year, from October to April. She says there are not many job opportunities in the area.
“It is a struggle to rely on an income from one person. There is not much you can do with that money.
“But we make do with what we have,” Nel said while admiring her new home.
“I’m really happy and grateful for the house. When they called me I couldn’t believe it was me who was getting a house,” she said.
“I still can’t believe it. It’s a dream. I have been waiting and it finally happened. On the farm you can’t do your own thing.”
Dina Martines, 92, is the oldest of the new homeowners. She was accompanied to the handing-over event by granddaughter Joelene Martines who will live with her when she moves into the house.
Martines has worked for most of her life at Die Pyp farm near Orchards in the Hex River Valley.
“Ouma was very happy. She was laughing the whole morning. She finally has a house of her own,” Joelene said.
Joelene who also works on the farm harvesting grapes said: “Life at the farm is great but here it will be much better.”
Madikizela said the project, which would be completed in 2016, would deliver 1 400 units. He said 586 homes had been completed and a further 206 would be handed over by the end of the financial year.
“The project accommodates a group that has somewhat been marginalised, the farmworkers. Most of the people who are beneficiaries are farmworkers who live in the informal settlement,” he said.