Athol Trollip strenuously denies the allegations levelled against him and his family, and vows to fight the accusations in court.
Trollip and his family have been accused by their former workers
of allegedly perpetrating human rights abuses, being racist and using
unfair labour practices on their family farm in the Eastern Cape.
The DA federal chairperson and the party’s mayoral candidate for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro said on Friday that he had not been informed of the complaint to the SA Human Rights Commission.
“I therefore cannot respond to something I have no personal knowledge of. Secondly, I am the only remaining member of the so-called Trollip family, so the omnibus charges that are unprecedented are in effect against me.
“I look forward to defending myself and my family’s reputation with facts against these clearly politically orchestrated charges.”
Trollip said he did not know Zibele James Mxaku and Senzi Ntsendwana, but knew some of his accusers.
“They are people I grew up with. They are people who loved me and who I loved. People who respected me and I respected them,” he said.
He said he was surprised by the claims because he grew up in a family that respected all people.
“As far as maltreatment and human rights abuses are concerned, I think whoever sent you and your editor to me is making a mistake because my family had a proud tradition in the community where we come from of treating people fairly.
“So, they must bring it on. Let’s go to the Human Rights Commission. I know who I am. I know where I come from.”
Trollip insisted this was a smear campaign orchestrated by his political opponents.
“In politics, all you have to do is throw mud and hope some of it sticks. You don’t even have to take it to court,” he said, adding in isiXhosa: “Mabagibisele ndiyabafuna [They must throw. I am ready for them].”
When asked if he was a racist, he said: “Don’t ask me that question. It’s offensive. I know who I am. I have a reputation.”
Regarding David Kota’s allegations, Trollip said: “I know David Kota very well. He was my right-hand man. He worked for my father before that. I dispute 100% the fact that he earned R200 a month. I have all the figures. I have them on my wage registers and my wage book.
“In his statement, he said he never got anything when he left. Now he says I gave him R15 000, which is different from what he says in his statement. I am going to contest all those things in court.
“I have got my wage book. I have got all the records, in fact, of the provident fund and contributions that I paid personally. I have all those records,” he said.
When asked whether he would show City Press the records, Trollip said: “Absolutely not. I am going to court.”
Regarding allegations by Regina Ntabeni that he once called her a baboon, he said: “Look, I read those statements, mate.
“You sat in my house and I told you I refute those statements. I refute Regina Ntabeni’s statement. She and her husband worked for a neighbouring farm and came to us, and then went to another farm that we owned. When I sold that farm, they came back to work for me and my father,” he said.
“Then my father left the farm after I sold it, some two years later. Mr Ntabeni went to work for my father in Bedford in town again. Would they have kept coming back to work for us in various work situations if we treated them badly? The answer is no.”
Trollip insisted that he had evidence to disprove all the allegations, and that before the minimum wage become applicable in the early 2000s, his workers were paid “way more” than the minimum wage.
When asked how much his staff were paid or if there was a standard rate he paid them, Trollip said: “I am going to court. I am not going to write my defence in your newspaper.”
SA Human Rights Commission spokesperson Isaac Mangena confirmed that a complaint against the Trollips was lodged on Wednesday.
“I can confirm that we have received a complaint consisting of various affidavits where allegations of unfair labour practice, minimal wages and hate speech were provided. The commission would need to peruse the
affidavits and assess same before going forward,” he said.