Beneficiaries of the Badirammogo Trust accuse the government and the farmer of defrauding them of their actions

Beneficiaries of the Badirammogo Trust, who owned 45% of Sonvrucht Farming and Chargo Trust in Kakamas, accuse the provincial Department of Agrarian Reform and Agriculture and farmer Dr Tokka van den Hever of defrauding them of their 45% shares (Agri-BEE) obtained in 2004.

In 2004, then MEC of land reform in the Northern Cape, Tina Joemat-Pettersson launched Agri-BEE to empower black agricultural workers. As a result of the initiative of the provincial ministry, approximately 22 trusts have been created. None of them are operational yet.

When it was launched, Badirammogo Trust had 42 beneficiaries who worked on the farm before becoming both employees and shareholders after the government purchased 45% of the farm on behalf of the 42 workers in 2004.

The son of the late Vuyelwa Diena Mpemba, Mandi Mpemba, 29, has been on the frontline seeking justice for the 42 beneficiaries who claim they were defrauded of shares worth over R100 million.

“After the government bought part of the farm for 42 farm workers in 2004, they did not attend a single meeting or receive any financial statements on the progress of their actions. It was not until June 2007, when the farmer sent the beneficiaries a written document purporting to be an annual dividend payout form, that each beneficiary received R20,000 in their accounts, including those who had died.

“Towards the end of the year, we were told that we had sold our individual holdings for only R20,000. The Afrikaans document we signed was a deed of sale,” Mpemba explained.

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The 42 beneficiaries have been withdrawn from operations as employees and shareholders. The farm owner did not respond to questions directed to him.

“The BEE deals and schemes in South Africa are a crime scene because law enforcement is quite weak,” said political scientist and lecturer at the University of Limpopo, Dr Metji Makgoba.

“BEE programs appear to cement relationships between state officials and big business bigwigs, as opposed to the vulnerable people the programs are meant to benefit.”

The government spent R17 million to buy a 45% stake in the farm for the 42 farm workers. It is alleged that the farmer only used R840,000 to pay R20,000 to each of the beneficiaries.

When contacted, Northern Cape land reform spokesman Zandisile Luphahla said the matter was pending. The case was heard last February but the verdict has not been rendered. The judgment will allow the beneficiaries of the Badirammogo Trust to take legal action.

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