Johannesburg - An Ekurhuleni farmer allegedly forced an employee to drink litres of faeces before attempting to drown him in a septic tank.
This is the latest shocking incident in a spate of racist attacks endured by farmworkers at the hands of their employers.
The plot on Short Street in Endicott, Springs, has been described as a place of constant torture, humiliation and physical abuse by those who have worked for the farmer, who also runs a car dealership on his yard.
Neighbours to the property, along R29, label the farmer and his family as “monsters”.
A 36-year-old man who worked as a mechanic for the family claims the farmer and his son tortured him on December 9 after he failed to switch on the engine of a septic tank pump machine. The father and son duo allegedly started swearing at him before midnight and called him a “useless k*****”.
“His son tightly held my hands behind my back and dragged me towards the sewer hole. His father took a big jug, dipped it in the sewer hole and forced me to drink its contents while calling me a k*****. He did the same thing twice and I was powerless to fight them back,” said the Germiston man on Tuesday as he relayed his horror.
He pleaded to remain anonymous for fear of further humiliation and embarrassment.
He claims to have then been thrown into the sewer hole but managed to crawl out 30 minutes later after he grabbed and held on to a loose piece of rope.
“I was already covered in filth. I tried several times to push the lid open but someone was pushing it down. The whole thing lasted for some time until I eventually got out,” he said.
The man went to his room in the workers’ quarters where he washed himself and even drank cooking oil to loosen his bowels.
“Some of the faeces I drank was starting to come out anally as I was bathing. I felt so humiliated and sick,” he said. He was only allowed to leave the next evening after he was locked in the yard.
The farmworker said his troubles took a turn for the worst after the Springs Police Station allegedly refused to open a case when he reported the incident a few days later. A policewoman allegedly told him that he would get arrested for operating a septic tank.
“I couldn’t believe a fellow black person was telling me this,” he said.
The worker escalated the matter with the Equality Court in Germiston where he was advised to make a sworn affidavit and take it back to the Springs Police Station.
The Star on Tuesday alerted Springs police spokesperson Warrant Officer Johannes Ramphora about the incident. He expressed shock at his colleagues’ conduct and the alleged crime.
“It’s devastating that in this day we still have people with so much hatred,” said Ramphora.
He called the man to his office on Tuesday, where a case of crimen injuria was registered against the farm owner and his son. An internal investigation into the allegations of the police officer’s refusal to open a case was also launched.
“I can’t sleep at night because of what I’ve been through,” said the man.
The farmer rejected all allegations against him and his family and said he had been a good employer to the man and at times paid for his child’s clothes and lent him a car.
“Are you mad, I would never call any person such an ugly thing as the k-word. I don’t want to say a lot of things but my advocate will deal with him.
“He must stop making allegations about me,” said the farmer.
Boy Rapabi, who recently got fired from the farm, said physical and emotional abuse was a daily occurrence on the farm and the family had become a law unto themselves.
“I’ve been slapped by the son several times for no apparent reason. The last time he hit me in November it was because he wanted me to look at him straight in the eyes when he was talking to me.
“It’s hell to work for them but we do it because we have families to feed,” said Rapabi.
The Star also learnt that the farm owner had a pending case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after he shot at three people who had been cutting wood near his house in May last year.
Lifa Mphuti, 40, was left with a scar in his buttocks after the farmer allegedly fired at them with a shotgun.
“The strange thing is that the owners of the property where we were cutting the wood had given us permission to do so. He just came for us and afterwards tried to bribe us with R1500 to quash the case,” said Mphuti.
The trial was scheduled to start two weeks ago. Ramphora said he would do a follow-up on the case.
Some residents described the family as bullies and horrible neighbours.
“They randomly shoot at night or peep through their security tower just to invade our privacy. The son sexually harassed me on several occasions during my pregnancy and I got tired of complaining to police about it,” said a female neighbour.
“People aren’t happy about them and some shop owners have even barred the family from their shops.”.