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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 17:33 GMT
SA probe into man eaten by lions
White lion
The human remains were found at a white lion breeding project
An investigation has begun into the conditions faced by a farm worker before he disappeared.

Labour inspectors have been dispatched to Engedi Game Farm after allegations he was sacked and beaten up before being thrown into a lion enclosure.

A South African farmer and three others were were arrested and charged with murder this week after police found a human skull and pieces of a leg.

The death is focusing attention on abuses experienced by farm workers.

Nelson Shisane, 38, had apparently returned to the farm near Hoedspruit to collect his belongings before he went missing.

Shock

The officials initially are looking to establish whether Shisane was registered as a worker - which would entitle his wife to benefits and establish whether the farm was legally employing him.

The case has shocked many South Africans and 10 detectives have also been assigned to investigate the case.

The owner of the game farm, Mark Scott Crossley, and three of his employees - Simon Mathebula, Richard Mathebula, and Robert Mnisi have been remanded in custody without bail.

The BBC's Dominic Hughes in Johannesburg says white farmers in the region have been accused of mistreating their workers, while they are themselves sometimes the victims of extremely violent attacks.

Last year, a report by South Africa's Human Rights Commission condemned the culture of violence on the country's farms.

The Sowetan newspaper said in a front-page editorial that the case showed that racial prejudices still linger in South Africa a decade on from the end of the apartheid regime.

"Stories about the killing of (white) farmers tend to generate a lot of sympathy in South Africa. This is an underdog class, white, Afrikaner, harassed by new black rulers and their transformative laws and endangered by thugs.

"The sympathy for farmers tends to obscure the violence and suffering that their mainly black labourers have to endure," it said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called for a "massive campaign" to improve safety on farms.

"The best tribute we can pay to the memory of Nelson Shisane is to make sure that never again do such atrocities take place on our farms," a Cosatu statement said.


SEE ALSO:
SA farmer 'fed worker to lions'
10 Feb 04  |  Africa
South Africa's violent farms
03 Sep 03  |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
08 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: South Africa
19 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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