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Umbhaba Estates is a large agricultural enterprise, farming organic bananas in Mpumalanga, South Africa (Kiepersol, Marlothi, Malelane, Hectorspruit, Hazyview) specializing in growing, ripening and distributing the bananas to leading chain-stores in South Africa. Agricultural Job creation in Mpumalanga

Press Release published by Umbhaba Estates on 12 September 2017

Mpumalanga - South Africa




  1. As a company we have not replied to the countless defamatory and misinformation campaigns launched by the Food and Allied Workers Union (“FAWU”) to date, but deem it necessary to break from this practice at this interval due to their ongoing persistence to tarnish our excellent reputation and standing with statements on various multimedia platforms.

  2. Our business operations date back to 1979 and we have always been an equal opportunity employer focussing on the development and empowerment of all coworkers, a statement of fact considering the large number of employees who have been in our employ for decades. At the heart of our operations, we are a family owned business built on diligence and integrity.

  3. Conceding there is a stigma attached to the Agricultural industry, that stigma has no application to us whatsoever, we are a mould breaking entity, from our certified organic farming practices to how we progressively deal with and empower our employees.

  4. We pride ourselves on legal compliance and we will never shy away from stating the truthful facts of any matter.

  5. Where ever FAWU has engaged with workers country wide, intimidation and violence has occurred in most cases, which should be of serious concern to us all.

  6. FAWU has consistently tried to create a narrative, casting our company as some or other sinister entity. They attempt to somehow rationalise and justify all the intimidation, criminal and/or unlawful incidents that occur under their stewardship.

  7. The above narrative was built on countless defamatory and false allegations pertaining to our alleged transgressions moving governmental bodies and agencies to action to investigate these deplorable allegations and every time these allegations are found to have no base in reality whatsoever, because the allegations are no less than fabricated and despicable falsehoods.

  8. Despite Umbhaba conducting a legally compliant and exemplary business for in excess of three decades, our alleged transgressions seem to have coincided with FAWU’s expansion into our area in the last few years, primarily predicated on their pursuance of financial gain on the backs of farm workers.

  9. FAWU proceeded to present us with countless forged membership forms in variance with our own records that tainted the alleged representation from the very start and we would hope that no employer in this country would simply disregard the word of their current employees telling them they are being threatened and intimidated against the backdrop of seeing such forms.

  10. Despite FAWU being privy to the evidence pertaining to the industrial action that started on 4 November 2015 and led to disciplinary proceedings and dismissals, this through the course of formal proceedings in the CCMA, evidence that speaks for itself, the fact remains the evidence is inconvenient and wholly in variance to their fabricated version of events.

  11. No bona fide employer simply wishes to dismiss employees and we are no different, but due to the flagrant disregard of High Court orders, public violence, assaults, malicious damage to property, continuous threats, continuous intimidation and even death threats, all of the aforementioned showing an escalating and concerning trend, we had little other choice than to institute disciplinary proceedings.

  12. The disciplinary proceedings culminated in the dismissal of 276 individuals and this figure is critically important.

  13. FAWU has continuously inflated the figure intentionally to mislead and deceive to their own ends, even referring a dispute to the CCMA on behalf of 391 alleged members that were dismissed on their version, which as stated above was actually 276 people.

  14. As a whole FAWU seems unable to give any figures with any type precision, which is subsequently contradicted by them at a later stage, which is to be anticipated where deceit is present.

  15. The blatantly obvious fact is, you cannot refer a dispute on behalf of some 115 individuals who do not exist and when pressed, the union on their own version conceded this, what this clearly illustrates is that even on their own version they do not know who their own alleged members are and this without even going into the forged membership forms.

  16. What the aforementioned illustrates is the extent of the deceit at the very root of the allegations continuously put forward by FAWU.


  18. The established practice by FAWU has been, when confronted with the facts, they mount a campaign of misinformation, defamation, falsehoods and threats to action to exert undue pressure and draw in additional third parties.

  19. Our position has always been to allow legal adjudication to run its course and the salient and pertinent question remains – why is the union so unwilling to allow their conduct and stewardship to be judged, acting out and seeking alternative methods at the slightest indication of objective evaluation of what transpired?

  20. At this stage, we are considering additional legal action against FAWU, additional to a damages claim totalling millions of Rands. We implore the public to not be misled by broadcast and print media statements by FAWU, launched afresh in recent days. We would in addition urge the media to retain integrity and balance in reporting on this matter and not to present a one-side version of events and we welcome any enquires directed to us in that regard.

From a South African perspective, we abhor intimidation and violence in our country under the banner of Unionism. Millions of jobs have been lost due to this type of occurrence in the workplace and millions of our people live in poverty.

Whatever the solution might be to the various labour related problems facing our country, this manner of toxic and unlawful conduct by a union, will and can only add to the problems faced.

Executive Management UMBHABA ESTATES (PTY) LTD







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