I was born and raised on a farm in Normandien and later moved to Durnacol. My childhood was like any other rural child: I would wake in the morning to milk the cows and take them to graze in the mountains.
I studied up to grade 12, but unfortunately could not finish. In 1993 I got my first job, working for a security company, and the following year I worked at the Mines in Durnacol. I was there until I got retrenched in 1999; since then, I haven’t had a formal job.
I am married to Duduzile Mabizela and have six beautiful kids. To support and feed my family, I have a poultry business, which I received training on at the KZN Poultry Institution. I also assist people with drafting their business plans, because I’m really good at it.
My activism was born from the struggles that we were constantly faced with while growing up and it was mostly inspired by my father – he was a very active man in the community. I remember in 1995 receiving a call from him. While I was away from home, informing me about an eviction notice he had received from the land owner. I felt helpless, but I knew that I had to do something. I searched for help everywhere, but back then, there were very few attorneys that worked on land matters. Eventually I heard about AFRA and they assisted in stopping the eviction.
In 1997, I was elected Secretary of the Dannhauser Crisis Committee, working hand in hand with AFRA, and I would refer land right violations matters to them. That very same year the Tenure Security Coordinating Committee (TSCC) was established, with representatives from rural communities across KwaZulu-Natal. The Land Reform Labour Tenant Act (LTA) and Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) had recently been passed. AFRA provided us with all the necessary information on these legislations and like messengers we were going in all rural communities informing them about the Acts and that they should not leave their farms.
I continued working with AFRA and in the year 2009, I was appointed as a Board Member. The experience has been challenging at time, but it is great to know that I have contributed to what AFRA is today. Being in this position has assisted me in my development and I have taken forward some of the lessons to the Dannhauser Crisis Committee. Its main purpose was, and still is to assist where there are evictions, livestock impoundment, and other land rights abuses. The committee has over the years grown and is now looking at developmental issues such getting the municipality to bring services in the community, and assisting farm dwellers in getting skills in cropping, livestock keeping etc. This committee falls under another structure that I am part of, the Siyaphambili Emajuba Farm dweller Association (SEFA) which is represented by farm dwellers in different local municipalities under Amajuba District.
SEFA together with AFRA is part, of an alliance for land and food justice in, called Tshintsha Amakhaya. I have had the privilege of attending local, regional and national platforms to share the struggles of farm dwellers in KZN, and to learn about others. From this, we are now working in solidarity with other community based organisations on joint human and land rights campaigns.
My involvement in all of these structures has inspired me to work even harder for the realisation and protection of farm dweller rights. While we wait for that to happen, the struggle for secured tenure continues!