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farm dwellers Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

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:

Farm dweller evictions – a fair process

By | ESTA

By Simon Dippenaar, originally published at eviction-specialists.co.za

Eviction of farm dwellers is governed by ESTA

The eviction of farm dwellers is a contentious topic. But it can be done with dignity and respect. We explain ESTA and the farm eviction process.

The eviction of farm dwellers has received a lot of media publicity over the past year, particularly in the Western Cape. Some farm labourers have suffered intimidation in the course of eviction and have been reduced to living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions in informal settlements after leaving their farm dwelling.

The Extension of Security of Tenure Act 1997 (ESTA) was enacted to provide farm workers with protection against unfair evictions from land they may have occupied for decades and it guarantees them certain rights. It also endows landowners with rights, and attempts to balance the interests of both parties.

Does ESTA prevent farm dweller evictions?

ESTA has been criticised for failing to achieve its objectives and instead being used to justify unfair evictions of farm dwellers. However, the problem does not lie with the legislation, which aims to


According to Hanif Vally, deputy director of the Foundation for Human Rights, most farm evictions are in fact illegal. So the problem lies with the failure of landowners to follow the prescribed process and the lack of enforcement of the legislation. At Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. we believe the rights of farm dwellers and landowners alike must be upheld; and we do not condone irresponsible or disrespectful conduct towards tenants.

Situations sometimes arise that make it necessary for a landowner to evict farm dwellers. When that happens we will make sure that tenants are treated fairly and fully within the law, while protecting the rights of owners to use their land as they see fit. As eviction lawyers we understand the eviction process thoroughly – whether governed by PIE or ESTA – and we can ensure landowners do not fall foul of the legislation.

Farm dwellers’ right to residence

If a farm dweller has been resident on the land for 10 years or more and has reached the age of 60, they cannot have their right of residence revoked. But an anomaly in the law says that if the farm is sold, the new owner of the land must consent to the continued occupation by the household.

Municipal housing provision for former farm labourers

Currently in the Western Cape farm evictions are a hot topic. With over 1000 pending evictions and a possible 20,000 people affected, alternative housing is a critical concern. In the Drakenstein district last year two sites were allocated for evictees. The cost of water and sanitation per site was estimated to be R140 000. More municipal sites are needed to accommodate the number of potentially displaced farm dwellers and prevent the unsafe, ad hoc settlements that develop. Although designed to be temporary, former farm workers often remain in informal settlements because they have nowhere else to go; and if their farm employment has been terminated it can be difficult to find alternative employment.

Therefore it is incumbent on farm owners to consider all factors and behave responsibly when faced with the need to evict farm dwellers. If there is no other solution, then a good eviction attorney is essential to uphold the constitutional rights and dignity of all parties involved.

The eviction process for farm dwellers

  1. Landowners must legally terminate the occupier’s right of residence by giving two months’ notice and inform the relevant municipality and Department of Land Affairs of the intention to evict. A legal termination includes ending a lease agreement or a fair dismissal from employment. This notice of motion and supporting affidavit must be served by the sheriff of the court.
  2. A probation officer from Land Affairs will be appointed to draft a report, which the court will consider in determining whether or not to evict.
  3. The occupier has an opportunity to oppose the eviction and file answering papers.
  4. The court will then set a date for the matter to be heard.

Legal advice is essential

Cape Town law firm Simon Dippenaar and Associates Inc are experts in evictions, both residential and agricultural. Let us help you conduct your farm eviction in full compliance with ESTA and all relevant legislation. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za.

Further reading: