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Farm evictions

Our farm had to evict people: It was lawful and justified

By | Eviction news, Farm evictions

Francina Petersen was dismissed for chronic absenteeism and offered alternative accommodation

Reprinted from GroundUp – 2020-03-12, by Lance Bouma

I was astonished to read in GroundUp that Francina Petersen, who had worked on our farm, Anura Vineyards, as a more absent then present bottle packer for five years and was dismissed for chronic absenteeism, “helped build the farm into the multi-million rand enterprise that it is today, boasting a winery, cheese factory, beer brewing, jam-making, wedding venue and restaurant”.

Eviction lawyers

The author, one of the owners of Anura Farm in the Cape Winelands, writes that a high profile eviction was done lawfully and justifiably. Photo supplied

I’m afraid Francina Petersen is not exactly truthful here. Perhaps because she is a tad jealous of her husband Chris who is the true entrepreneur of the Petersen family. Chris and Francina’s father, Marthinus Cupido, were arrested and charged with theft of diesel, which they were allegedly reselling on the farm.

I’ve no doubt that Barbara Maregele’s heartbreaking story of another victimised, vulnerable farm worker tossed on to the streets with her children would have even your most hardened reader reaching for the tissues. But they’ll be pleased to know that underneath Francina’s tearful exterior there is a steely resolve.

Francina told the Sheriff, in no uncertain terms, that she did not want to be taken to the alternative accommodation provided by me in La Rochelle but wanted to be dumped on the street outside our farm. This was so that she could get the maximum amount of media publicity. You have to admire her. She was prepared to camp outside, night after night with her husband and children for the greater good of the Petersen family.

But she was not alone. The community led by Carmen Louw of Women on Farms rallied around her “angered by yet another family on a farm left destitute by an eviction”. Some, of course, may argue that Chris Petersen’s substantially higher salary in the construction sector as an earthmoving operator doesn’t exactly qualify him as destitute.

Women on Farms’s director Colette Solomon, who is no slouch when it comes to exaggeration, claims that “they were concerned that the farm owners were trying to evict the rest of the Petersen’s family including her father and brother”.

In fact, Marthinus voluntarily moved off our farm two years ago and lives with his daughter in Klapmuts. He worked for Anura from 1989 to 2014 and on that basis Anura provided him with a house. His belongings remain undisturbed in the house as they did two years ago when he left the farm and moved to Klapmuts. Her brother, Jonathan, is still working on Anura.

In accordance with the rule of law in which — astonishingly, not only the farmworker but the farmer has rights — the Paarl Magistrates’ Court and Land Claims Court weighed the evidence and competing rights of the Petersens and the Boumas and granted an eviction order against the Petersens on 15 October 2019. This gave the Petersens just under four months, until 7 February 2020, to find alternative accommodation.

The Petersens, in accordance with their contractual agreement, which gave them a house as long as they were employed on the farm were evicted (after refusing to move out) to accommodate farm workers who are currently employed on the farm, and who are in need of housing.

Lance Bouma is one of the owners of Anura.

Chris Petersen denied the allegation of diesel theft.

Views expressed are not necessarily GroundUp’s.

Some links added by SD Law.

Eviction specialists

There are two sides to every story, as this article shows, and at SD Law we are expert eviction attorneys who weigh up all the facts, on both sides. We are eviction lawyers in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and we believe the landlord-tenant relationship should be built on trust. We act for both landlords and tenants and uphold the rights of each to a fair and satisfactory tenancy. If you  need help with an eviction, either as landlord or tenant, contact Simon at Cape Town Eviction Attorneys on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

Further reading:

 

Farm worker challenges authorities in court over housing

By | ESTA, Eviction news, Eviction notice, Evictions, Farm evictions

Municipality and province accused of not meeting constitutional obligations

A farm worker is to take the Drakenstein Municipality and the provincial Department of Human Settlements to court for their “failure to meet its constitutional obligation by not providing adequate emergency housing” to families facing eviction.

The worker, Eric Lolo, is bringing the matter to court on behalf of all farm dwellers in the region currently facing eviction and in need of emergency accommodation. The case will be heard in the Western Cape High Court in April. Farm worker rights organisation Women on Farms Project has been admitted as amicus curiae [friend of the court] in the matter.

Lolo, 60, shares a two bedroom home with his daughter Berenice Fransman and her child on Langkloof Roses farm in Wellington. Lolo said he had worked at Langkloof intermittently for about 20 years before he was retrenched in February 2014.

In August 2015, the farm’s owners, Greenwillows Properties, lodged an eviction application in the Wellington Magistrates’ Court against Lolo. They argued that according to the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA), the right of Lolo and his family to remain in the house at Langkloof ended along with his employment.

Lolo currently works on an estate in Simondium.

Representing the farm, attorney Ina-Mari Booysen said that despite having worked for the company years earlier, Lolo had only signed a written employment and housing agreement in February 2012.

“Mr Lolo was retrenched for operating requirements. He is being evicted because he is no longer working on the farm. The farm only offers housing to active staff,” she said.

“There is currently a need for housing for employees who must live on-site. This distress and Mr Lolo’s failure to vacate the premises voluntarily is why we instituted the eviction application. There were several occasions where [alternative] housing was discussed with Mr Lolo, among other things,” she said.

The ruling on Lolo’s eviction is pending the outcome of the High Court case. If he is evicted, Lolo told GroundUp, his family has “nowhere to go”.

“I was given R10,000 for all of the years I worked there. They want me to move but I have nowhere to go. My daughter is unemployed and they don’t have work for her there either,” he said.

“The company offered me a bungalow, but I have to find a place to put it.”

During the eviction hearing, the municipality was asked to provide emergency housing for Lolo in Simondium where he currently works. The municipality offered emergency housing at an informal settlement in Simondium, which was rejected by Lolo and his lawyer as the site was already overcrowded and lacked sufficient services.

“Have they [the municipality] seen what that place looks like or know what goes on there?” asked Lolo.

Representing Lolo, attorney Johan van der Merwe said they want the municipality’s housing selection policy — dated 28 October 2014 — declared unconstitutional and invalid.

Van der Merwe plans to argue that this policy precludes farm dwellers from benefiting from the 20% quota set aside for farm workers and dwellers in municipal housing projects.

“The municipality’s practice of relying primarily on money from the provincial government for the provision of emergency housing is unlawful. We want the municipality to be legally obligated to use its own financial resources for emergency housing,” he said.

Gerald Esau, Executive Director of Community Services at Drakenstein Municipality, told GroundUp that as of last week, they were aware of 55 households awaiting placement. He did not say how many people were affected.

The municipality has a budget of R1.2 million available for emergency accommodation. The provincial Department of Human Settlements gave about R12 million to develop a piece of land to house evictees. “The National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is however the lead government institution to address evictions on farms in terms of the Extension of Security Tenure Act. They must provide legal representation and also secure the permanent tenure [alternative accommodation] of evictees,” he said.

Esau said the municipality’s challenges included availability of funding and of suitable land, and the competing interests of evictees and of the communities where they are to be settled. “In Schoongezicht [in Paarl] for instance, the surrounding communities threatened to invade the site and even to harm the evictees unless they could also be accommodated in the project. The challenge is to find land and to get the buy-in from these communities,” he said.

Colette Solomon, co-director of the Women on Farms Project, in an affidavit to the court, said: “We will show that even from the evidence already on record, the living conditions of persons who are evicted from farms within the municipality’s jurisdiction, fall short of acceptable standards. Worse still, on the municipality’s own version, it has not prioritised the needs of the most vulnerable evictees: women and children. This is despite the constitutional injunction that they do so.”

Solomon believes that the evidence to be presented to the court “shows that the municipality’s failure to provide humane and an acceptable emergency accommodation for those evicted from farms in the manner similar to that of the applicants, violates the right to housing enshrined in the Constitution”.

Reprinted from GroundUp – 2020-02-20. Emphasis/links by SD Law.

Need help with an eviction matter?

Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. is a Cape Town law firm with offices in Cape Town, and now Johannesburg and Durban, of specialised eviction attorneys and property lawyers. We uphold the rights of landlords and tenants, including farm workers. Contact Cape Town Attorney for help with your eviction matter on +27 (0) 86 099 5146 or sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za. One of our Cape Town Eviction Attorneys will contact you right back.

Further reading:

Farmworker’s widow, 62, evicted after 20 years ‘because owners said I was sick’

By | Eviction news, Eviction notice, Evictions, Farm evictions

This story from the Cape Times highlights the plight of a farmworker’s widow evicted from her home of 20 years.

Cape Town – A 62-year-old Stellenbosch widow of a farmworker has been evicted from a farm she and her late husband lived on for about 20 years, according to farmworker rights group Women on Farms.

The move followed a lengthy legal battle by the farm owners of Goedvertrouw, who obtained an eviction order against Elizabeth Le Roux.

They said Le Roux flagrantly wasted water during a time of severe water restrictions and was often under the influence of alcohol.

Le Roux said she was not at home when she received a phone call that the owners of the farm broke her door and took her belongings on Tuesday.

“That was around 9 am, the farmer’s lawyer said the magistrate granted that I must be put out, because they said I was sick,” she said.

She spent the night alongside a road in Stellenbosch before moving in with a friend, said Women on Farms project’s Carmen Louw.

Louw claimed Le Roux’s belongings were dumped on the side of the road when she was evicted.

“This eviction needs to be seen in the context of a systematic process by farmers, especially in Stellenbosch, Simondium and Franschhoek, to evict farm workers and dwellers,” she said.

Louw said le Roux’s husband, Paulus le Roux, had worked on the farm for 20 years, and two days after he was buried in May 2016, the owners told her to vacate her house.

In court documents Le Roux was ordered to vacate the property by no later than June 30 last year.

Barend Kellerman, the legal representative of the farm owners, said Le Roux’s right of occupation was from her late husband’s employment on the farm.

“She alone occupied an entire house on the farm that was required for other employees. After many failed attempts to discuss the issues relating to her continued occupation of the farm, and after he (the farm owner) had allowed her to remain on the farm for almost a year, my client eventually gave her notice to vacate the property on March 9, 2017. 

“This was after she had failed to take him up on any of his invitations to negotiate the matter with him,” he said.

Stellenbosch Municipality spokesperson Mart-Marie Haasbroek said they were going to help Le Roux: “The municipality must provide emergency housing in cases like this and a team was sent to assist the resident. We are of providing her with emergency housing.”

Reprinted from the Cape Times – 2020-02-06

Contact Eviction Lawyers in Cape Town and Johannesburg for help if you face eviction

*Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a firm of specialist eviction lawyers, based in Cape Town and now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our eviction lawyers on 086 099 5146 or info@sdlaw.co.za if you have been evicted unlawfully or simply need advice on your situation.

Further reading:

Farm evictions – a fair process

Family live on busy roadside for three weeks after eviction from wine farm

Evicted families stuck in Paarl caravan park for a year

Farm dwellers march against increase in evictions in Cape Town