NEWS & ANALYSIS

Thandi Modise's underpayment of her farmworkers shocking - Chris Hattingh

DA NWest leader says workers on NCOP chairperson's farm alleged to have received only R25 a day

North West Public Accounts Committee must investigate abuse of public funds for Modise cover up

13 July 2014

The revelations today that Thandi Modise hired undocumented foreign farm workers, that she promised to only pay them R25 per day and that she didn't pay them anything in the end are shocking (see report in The Times).

These allegations are extremely serious and represent breaches of our labour legislation. It seems that Ms Modise criminally mistreated both her workers and her animals.

It is completely unacceptable for any farm owner to underpay farmworkers and abuse foreign labourers in this way.

The situation is extremely serious and merits a criminal investigation by the relevant bodies. The DA has already submitted charges for animal cruelty. The SPCA will be submitting similar charges, for which Ms Modise could face up to 12 months jail time. The relevant authorities must also investigate the allegations of farm worker abuse.

In addition to these criminal investigations, the DA will seek an investigation by the North West Public Accounts Committee into Ms Modise's use of state resources to deal with the chaos on her farm. It has been repeatedly reported that she visited the farm only irregularly, instead relying on state officials to visit the farm on her behalf.

Her government spokesperson has also been visiting the farm in the days after the story first broke. This is an inappropriate use of a government spokesperson. This is a personal problem for Ms Modise that should not be spun by a government spin doctor, but should rather be addressed by herself in her personal capacity. The farm has nothing to do with government, and therefore no state officials should be involved in dealing with the problem.

I will shortly write to the Chairperson of the North West Public Accounts Committee, Mahlakeng Mahlakeng, to request that Ms Modise appears before the committee to account for her misuse of state resources during this scandal.

Statement issued by Chris Hattingh, DA Leader in North West, July 13 2014

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