Tongaat employees clash with resettled farmers

Tongaat employees clash with resettled farmers
Published: 30 May 2018
Over 200 Tongaat Huletts Zimbabwe employees here were last week involved in fierce clashes with scores of resettled sugarcane farmers who wanted to take over their houses at Hippo Valley Estates.

Riot police had to intervene to quell the situation and restore order as Tongaat workers stood their ground vowing to deal with the new farmers.

The new farmers tried to kick out Tongaat employees from their homes, arguing that they were the new owners following their recent takeover of sugarcane plots straddling over 4000 hectares at Hippo Valley and Triangle.

Trouble started after they allegedly tried to forcibly evict Tongaat workers from their homes, resulting in fierce clashes as the latter resisted the move to push them out together with their belongings.

Tongaat corporate affairs and communications manager Ms Adelaide Chikunguru professed ignorance over the matter. However, when The Herald visited Hippo Valley's Section 7, the situation was tense, with property belonging to Tongaat workers strewn all over the place.

Former Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers' Union (Zismiwu) president Mr Freedom Madungwe yesterday confirmed the incident and appealed to Government to assist the workers.

"We were shocked by the way the new farmers treated our fellow workers and surely in this law-abiding country, no one has a right to evict another person from a house, which they are occupying legally. The houses were allocated to employees by Tongaat and the affected workers are still in the company's employ, so there is no justification to kick them out," he said.

Mr Madungwe paid tribute to the ZRP for swiftly intervening to stop the situation from further deteriorating.

A Tongaat employee, Mr Simbarashe Nyemba said the attempted seizure of Tongaat houses by new farmers painted a bad picture about the country and also thanked the police for their speedy reaction to make sure the law was upheld.

Efforts to get a comment from Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrence Shiri were fruitless.

The planned takeover of Tongaat-owned houses at Hippo Valley follows the recent allocation of sugar cane plots to more than 200 indigenous farmers at Hippo Valley and Triangle by Government.

The allocation courted controversy after Government tried to cancel the offer letters, forcing the courts to quash the move after beneficiaries contested the decision.

Government is still to make a final determination on the fate of the new farmers.
- the herald
Tags: Tongaat,


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