Farmer allegedly drives out family from farm

18 Mar 2014 18:00pm
GOBABIS, 18 MAR (NAMPA) – A farmer and businessman in the Omaheke Region allegedly drove out a widow along with her three young children from his farm, after the death of the widow’s husband over a week ago.
The husband, Max Opper, was employed as Foreman at the farm and had worked for the farmer, Deon van Vuuren for 29 years before he succumbed to illness on 05 March 2014.
Besides the farm, Van Vuuren also owns a supermarket and filling station on the same farm at Buitepos – some 113 kilometres east of Gobabis. The name of the farm could not be established.
After Opper’s death, Van Vuuren reportedly asked Magdalena Gawases, the window of the deceased to vacate the house that she had been sharing with her husband, as Van Vuuren apparently wanted a new foreman to move into the house with his family.
Gawases told Nampa on Monday that she was unceremoniously asked to leave the farm altogether.
She had been staying on the farm for the past 12 years with her husband and three school-going children.
Although she was not legally working for Van Vuuren, Gawases said she did odd jobs on the farm at nominal fees to keep busy, as she was only on the farm on account of her husband.
She alleged that Van Vuuren did not contribute a cent to the funeral of her husband; nor did he show any pain at the loss of a dedicated employee.
“We were told ‘pack your things and get them out of the house’. He [Van Vuuren] said the house was built for workers and their families only, and since my husband is no more, I needed to vacate the house so that new people can move in,” she said.
Gawases was allegedly transported by fellow farmworkers to her mother’s place in the Gobabis informal settlement of Canaan.
She admitted however that the farmworkers did that under Van Vuuren’s instructions, and they used his truck as well.
When approached for comment, Van Vuuren dismissed allegations that he had sent the widow and her children packing, noting that it was Gawases’s own will to leave the property.
“She is lying. How can she say such a thing? I asked her if she wanted to stay on at the farm but she preferred going to Gobabis to be with her mother. It was her choice, she left on her own accord,” he said.
The farmer said he indeed assisted the family with burial costs, transport and groceries.
“I personally gave her [Magdalena] N.dollars 1,600 for food. My manager also gave her N.dollars 1,000 from his own pocket, while other workers collected money for her too. This woman is lying…all the things she told you are blatant lies. What is her agenda? She must tell the truth,” he countered.
But Gawases still insisted that she had been telling the truth and had no reason to lie.