Tongaat crisis: Small farmers receive cash for September, but 300 large producers remain unpaid


Tongaat Hulett produces around 43% of South Africa’s sugar.

Smallholder farmers supplying Tongaat Hulett mills in Felixton, Amatikulu and Maidstone in KwaZulu-Natal have now been paid for the sugarcane delivered in September.

The company, which was placed in commercial bailout on October 27, missed a deadline to pay R401 million for cane delivered by around 4,300 growers.

But some 300 commercial growers have yet to be paid, according to the association. This puts nearly 15,000 jobs at risk, as these farmers employ the vast majority of the region’s sugar cane farm workers, he said in a statement on Saturday.

Tongaat entered the corporate bailout after falling out with lenders over its restructuring plan. The group has a debt of more than 6 billion rand.

The association raised concerns about Tongaat Hulett’s ability to “make one-time payments of over R345 million at the end of November for the over 570,000 tonnes of cane delivered in October”.

“It is also essential to clarify plans for the rest of the season and to try to secure the future of Tongaat Hulett for the benefit of the thousands of livelihoods that depend on cane farming on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal.”

The association is negotiating with business rescue practitioners in Tongaat to prioritize payments to commercial producers, which will pay other businesses including contractors, transport companies and food suppliers. inputs.

Tongaat, the country’s biggest sugar producer, has been hit by an accounting scandal with accusations that it inflated its financial position by R12 billion from 2011 to 2018. Its shares are currently suspended on the JSE.

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