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Farm evictions Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Campaigns failing to stop farm evictions, say civil society organisations

By | COVID 19, Eviction news, Eviction notice, Eviction orders, Farm evictions

Webinar highlights plight of women on farms, calls on President to honour promise

Photo of a woman with a microphone

Johanna Fransman was evicted from Soetendal farm and relocated to New Rest. She says she lost her son in January this year in a shack fire at New Rest. “I feel very disappointed in the municipality who say that they cannot give us houses. Our children are anxious to be outside, and you cannot even walk outside at night. I don’t want to be where I live,” she said.

  • Women who live on farms raised their concerns at a webinar hosted by various civil society organisations, saying little has changed for them since apartheid officially ended.
  • Thousands of people are facing evictions in the Boland.
  • The organisations compiled a memorandum of demands sent to the Department of Agriculture, Land reform and Rural Development.

Members of the Women on Farms Project (WFP) say despite campaigns, talk of stopping evictions on farms and the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people face becoming homeless as eviction orders continue to be approved by the courts.

The women raised their concerns at an online webinar on Tuesday, held in partnership with Mawubuye Land Rights Forum, the Social Justice Coalition, and the Legal Resources Centre.

They demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa sign a moratorium on farm evictions, which they say he promised farmworkers in De Doorns and Paarl in 2014.

The WFP compiled a memorandum with a list of demands to put to the Department of Agriculture, Land reform and Rural Development. These include: the provision of land and decent housing for evicted farmworkers, ensuring that evictions are not granted if there is no land for alternative housing, and that government accelerate Land Expropriation without Compensation.

Director of WFP Colette Solomon said although the country celebrates 26 years of democracy, farmers “still have all the power, all the money and all the wealth”. She said, “Farmworkers, specifically women on farms, are becoming poorer. There are fewer jobs available; people are working for fewer hours; there’s more retrenchments and evictions.”

“There is more protection for farmworkers in terms of the laws but in terms of the structure of our society in rural areas, the structure is still the same [as during apartheid].

Co-director Carmen Louw said the evictions of farmworkers is a recurring issue despite the attempts of several organisations and campaigns to stop it.

“In the Drakenstein Municipality, there are more than a thousand cases on the current roll that are awaiting an outcome, and in most cases an eviction order will be granted. So, despite numerous and yearlong fights, many magistrates and land claims courts endorse these eviction orders.”

“We’ve got a supposedly superior Constitution but there’s basically no difference to the life that women in 1956 experienced in urban areas than what women on farms are still experiencing today,” said Louw.

The webinar was joined by several of the women from the Drakenstein area who were evicted from the Soetendal farm in 2015. They shared their experiences of being relocated by Drakenstein Municipality to an open plot in New Rest informal settlement. Diana Meyer of WFP and her family were among them. She said the eviction was a traumatic experience for the community.

“There weren’t proper doors or a proper foundation for the houses. Our things were thrown out and broken, while our children stood watching in confusion,” she said.

Meyers said her family do not feel safe where they now live and their living conditions are worse than when they lived on the farm.

“We feel so helpless. I just want the government to help us. We long for proper houses and for the government to give us a piece of land so that we can farm and have food to put on the table,” said Mayers.

Dawn Jacobs, of Drakenstein Civics, said that some farmers have forced workers to leave by cutting off the supply of water and electricity to their homes.

“When people are evicted and go to the municipality, they always say there’s no land available for houses and no land available for farmworkers. But the municipality is quick to approve land for private development,” said Jacobs.

“We don’t want to stay in shacks or townships. We want to remain on the farms,” she said.

The women also spoke of the violence used by law enforcement and the Red Ants when evicting farm workers, despite a moratorium on all evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Denia Jansen, of Mawubuye Land Rights Movement, said they had held several engagements with the Langeberg municipality regarding police brutality but to no avail.

“There’s no clear answer as to why they are using the Red Ants and law enforcement to evict people during this pandemic,” she said.

“Nothing will change until we stand united and unite our struggles regardless of which organisations we belong to. We all need to campaign for the same thing.”

Reprinted from GroundUp by

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 attorneys on 086 099 5146 or if you need advice on the eviction process or if you are facing unlawful eviction.

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.

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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 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