Farmworker says Modise still owes him cash

19 October 2014 - 02:03 By Khanyi Ndabeni and Monica Laganparsad
NO PAY: Thandi Modise
NO PAY: Thandi Modise

The farmworker who was forced to abandon Thandi Modise's farm, near Potchefstroom, North West, after being left without food for weeks is still struggling.

Broke and desperate, Tebogo "Nina" Moekaedi wants what he was promised. He said Modise, the chairwoman of the National Council of Provinces, owes him money.

He was told his employer would take care of him for looking after her livestock.

"Government officials look after their workers. You will see for yourself. Your life will change for the better. You just need to do the job," is what Modise's former farmworker, Nimrod Tlhoaele, told Moekaedi on his first day on the job.

But Moekaedi and his family - together with the livestock on the property - were left to starve.

The animals that survived the neglect were rescued by the SPCA in July.

But no one rescued Moekaedi, who now lives at his wife's home in Wolmaransstad, North West, and is dependent on his father-in-law for survival.

"It hurts to know I worked for mahala [free]. Even now I'm struggling, I owe a lot of people here because every day I have to borrow money for bus fare when I go job hunting," the father of a one-year-old girl said.

"If Thandi can pay me the money I worked for during the time at the farm, things might be easy."

A neighbouring farmer alerted the SPCA after he saw cows trying to climb over the electric fence to reach water.

When officials arrived, they found dead and dying animals that had been without water and food for about two weeks.

Fifty-three pigs, 19 goats and sheep, one goose and seven chickens were already dead when they arrived at the farm. A further 107 pigs and 10 goats and sheep had to be put down.

The SPCA said on Friday that a criminal investigation into the case was close to finalisation.

"All that's outstanding is an affidavit from Ms Modise," said senior SPCA inspector Grace de Lange.

With nothing to eat, Moekaedi abandoned the farm. He said he was promised R50 a day but no one had contacted him to make payment.

''It hurts to be a man who can't support his family. Working at that farm has taken me 10 steps backwards in my life. My family and I starved at that farm. If we didn't leave maybe we would have been found dead together with her animals."

He tried several times to phone Tlhoaele and Modise's daughter but said both have ignored his calls.

"Thandi knows there was someone working at the farm during those two months. That person is me," he said.

Modise could not be reached for comment.