South Africa

Fury over 'cruel' farm evictions of 300 people in Kraaifontein

Fury over 'cruel' farm evictions of 300 people in Kraaifontein

Cape Town – In what has been described as a cruel and barbaric act, more than 300 people, including pensioners, women and children, have been evicted from a farm in Kraaifontein and left destitute. 

The 300, who had resided on Klein Akker farm near Wallacedene in Kraaifontein, some for nearly two decades, have been left to sleep on the street since Monday. 

The evictions come as land reform issues persist, with the Constitutional Court ordering the reinstatement of a Land Claims Court order to appoint a special official to oversee claims by families who laboured on farms in lieu of payment.

Klein Akker community spokesperson Anna-Marie Schoeman said the residents were stripped of their dignity as they were made to sit along Botfontein Road while their goods were destroyed during the eviction process.

“The people who came to evict us demolished everything. My new wendy house has been completely destroyed and we have nothing while we wait for alternative accommodation. 

"Some of our items have been moved to a storage place for about a month, but thereafter they will also remove them if we have no place to move them to,” said Schoeman.

“On Monday night we slept on bricks because we had nowhere else to go. My children and the other people living here do not know such conditions,” said Schoeman.

Booth Attorneys, on behalf of the landowner, said private company Odvest was the registered owner of the property and intended to develop the land into an industrial or semi-industrial property. 

An application was launched in 2012 in the Western Cape high court for the eviction, and in October 2016 an order was granted authorising the eviction.

Booth Attorneys said: “On behalf of Odvest, a writ of ejectment was applied for and was issued by the high court during March 2018.

“Notice was given to the occupiers by Odvest later during 2018 that the eviction will be carried out. The occupiers thereupon launched an application for, inter alia, the stay of the execution of the eviction. 

"During the course of these proceedings, the City of Cape Town made available a site and land in Philippi for the occupiers to relocate to. Only one of the occupiers made use of this offer and relocated to Philippi. The rest rejected the offer.”

A hold was put on the eviction until July 1 this year. 

“This was done on the basis that July 1 falls within the school holidays and the occupiers can, therefore, make arrangements in regard to their school-going children. 

"The occupiers have, however, refused to adhere to the court orders and have refused to vacate Klein Akker,” said Booth Attorneys. SACP district secretary Siya Siswana said they were “flabbergasted” by the evictions.

“This barbaric and cruel attitude by the owners of Klein Akker farm has left many families, including pensioners, women and children, destitute. 

"This happens during a month where women should be proud of their role in building a non-racial, non-sexist and classless South Africa. Instead, women are forced to the street by the owners of this farm without basic necessities like food and water,” said Siswana.

Building and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa secretary-general Nosey Pieterse said they were concerned.

"We are sitting with the same situation where the government makes promises about land reform but nothing is happening. Instead, the situation is getting worse. There must not just be a moratorium put on farm evictions - it must be outlawed completely,” said Pieterse.

The Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture report said the panel had received calls from “various round tables that there should be a moratorium placed on all farm evictions”.

“We call on the president to make a public call for an end to farm evictions and to urgently expedite mechanisms to secure farm dwellers’ tenure rights, in line with the law.”

The panel also recommended that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform “urgently” create an application system for farm dwellers to upgrade their tenure and expand their land occupation, as provided in Section 4 of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997.

Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said the mass eviction was a private one in which the city’s law enforcement agencies did not take part. 

“The city offered alternative accommodation on two separate occasions which were refused by the respondents.

“The city is endeavouring to find a solution in conjunction with the SA Human Rights Commission and the attorney on behalf of the respondents. The offer of alternative accommodation is still available,” said Booi.

Cape Times