New generation farm workers’ accommodation unveiled

The company also provides technical skills training and health education programmes
A new generation of worker housing was unveiled today (November 26) near Darling at Papkuilsfontein Vineyards (Pty) Limited, co-owned by Distell, a consortium of Gauteng taverners and the Maluti-Groenekloof Community Trust. A function to mark the event, attended by Western Cape MEC for Housing Ms Nomatyala Hangana, was hosted by the community trust that holds a 15% share in the venture and represents the farm workers and their local community. Distell owns 49% and the taverner consortium 36%.

The two-bedroomed, electrified homes, each equipped with solar heating panel, built-in cupboards, a bath, shower and fenced-in garden for the establishment of a vegetable patch, were entirely consistent with standards set for accommodation for permanent farm workers elsewhere on farms in which Distell had a stake, said André Steyn, the company’s corporate affairs director.

‘Although each of the Papkuilsfontein houses is a renovation of a pre-existing cottage, these homes scarcely resemble the original dwellings as they have been virtually rebuilt. We have also erected a small community hall on the property used for social and religious gatherings.

‘Permanent workers on other farms either owned by Distell or in which Distell has a stake, have similar accommodation facilities,’ he said. ‘This is in line with the company’s desire to ensure a decent standard of living and to promote a stable, productive and committed work force. We have found this approach to enhance performance levels and in the process, contribute to the company’s competitiveness.’

The other Distell-owned farms where similar accommodation was provided, said Steyn, were Plaisir de Merle in Simondium, Nederburg near Paarl, Groenhof (a farm supplying grapes to neighbouring Nederburg) and Ernita, Distell’s vine nursery in Wellington.

Steyn added that Distell was working closely with its supplier wine growers to address farm worker accommodation facilities where appropriate.

Housing, he said was just one facet of working conditions on which Distell focused. The company was also providing technical skills training and health education programmes on four of the five farms with the accent on HIV/AIDS awareness and counseling.

Papkuilsfontein Vineyards was the first project of its kind to create an opportunity for black liquor retailers to own a stake in a winemaking venture in an effort to promote a wider wine drinking culture. Grapes from the farm are supplied to Distell for its top range brands, such as Nederburg, as well as for the scheme’s own wine label Tukulu, named after the deep red Tukulu soil on the farm.

Some 330 ha of the total of 975 ha of the farm have been deemed suitable for vines and a vineyard establishment programme is currently underway that is scheduled for completion by 2005, with 85% devoted to red grape cultivars.

The venture has been structured to become fully black owned with Distell’s shares purchased by the other two parties from profits derived from the supply of grapes to Distell and from the sale of Tukulu wines.

The Tukulu range has received ongoing praise since its inception in 1999. Earlier this year, the 2001 Tukulu Pinotage was voted the best wine on the Tops at Spar WINE Pinotage Championship. It is sold domestically and in selected export markets.

Issued by: De Kock Communications (DKC) on behalf of Distell
Queries: André Steyn, Director: Corporate Affairs,
Tel: +27 (0) 21 809-7000

Issued by: De Kock Communications (DKC)
Contact : Pippa Pringle
Tel: +27 (0) 21 422-2690