||Extensive evidence of atrocities committed against black workers on white-owned farms has consistently been uncovered by progressive organisations working in the rural areas in South Africa. The evidence suggests the need for a thorough and systematic investigation of the nature and extent of violence on the farms, as well as a more systematic exposure of the findings. For the most part, the personality of rural South Africa remains a mystery to urban dwellers. The Black Sash and its rural project, the Transvaal Rural Action Committee (TRAC), approached the Project for the Study of Violence to undertake this research and this report was first presented at the Project's seminar programme at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Its findings have provoked strong responses from the farming sector. Kobus Kleynhans, the Deputy Director, General Services of the South African Agricultural Union (SAAU), was quoted in The Star as saying, "According to my observations, the situation (on the farms) is quite different. I reject these findings with contempt; they are nothing near the real situation...I will not deny that some farmers do not treat their workers as they should, but this sort of information is not representative". (The Star, 16 October 1990).
In reply, it should be emphasised that firstly, while this study was conducted only in the South Eastern Transvaal, the case studies in this report are not isolated incidents but were selected out of a large range of similar occurrences in the area. Secondly, rural advice offices in the Western and Northern Transvaal have reported similar cases of violent abuse of labourers on white-owned farms in their areas. Although the specific contours of the communities in these regions have not been investigated, some of the case studies directly corroborate the findings of this report.
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