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    Sunday, 26 November 2017

    Tongaat pays ‘evicted’ sugarcane farmers


    CHIREDZI – Tongaat Hulett has started paying for the cane it harvested from the fields of 221 farmers who controversially took occupancy of part of the sugar giant's estate.
    The farmers were allocated plots on 4 000 hectares of land owned by Tongaat that already had cane growing on it. Their offer letters were however later withdrawn by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Dr Douglas Mombeshora after South Africa complained against the seizure of Tongaat land which is covered under the Bilateral Investment and Promotion and Protection Agreement.
    Some of the farmers however, refused to move after the withdrawal of the offer letters and took their case to the High Court where it is still pending.
    The farmers also had disputes with Tongaat over rights to the sugarcane that they found on their plots and barred Tongaat from harvesting the crop. This attracted the intervention of the Ministry which then ordered Tongaat to harvest the crop and compensate the farmers for input to the crop.
    Tongaat Corporate Affairs and Communications Executive, Adelaide Chikunguru declined to comment on the matter which she said was now in the hands of the Ministry.
    ZANU PF senior official Ailes Baloyi who is also one of the farmers confirmed the development to The Mirror. He said payments have started coming in after Tongaat began harvesting cane on the fields last month.
    He however, complained against deductions made against the payments by Tongaat which he said were too high. He said the deductions which in many cases ran into tens of thousands of dollars were for sugarcane seeds they found in the fields.
     "I can confirm that some of our members have received their payments from Tongaat Hulett. We are however, worried that the company deducted a lot of money as root charges which is seed. I saw two farmers who had $18 000 and $20 000 deducted on their statements. We are not the first people to be given land with sugarcane already planted and in all previous cases, none paid for seeds" said Baloyi.
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