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Farm evictions Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

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

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

By | Eviction news, Farm evictions

Barbara Maregele, GroundUp

Ten members of the May family have been squatting outside the farm gates ever since their eviction, with all their belongings, including couches, mattresses and a cupboard, and only a plastic sheet to cover them. Photo supplied
Ten members of the May family have been squatting outside the farm gates ever since their eviction, with all their belongings, including couches, mattresses and a cupboard, and only a plastic sheet to cover them. Photo supplied

The Mays have been squatting with their belongings and only a plastic sheet to cover them. 

For nearly a month, Zonwabile Alfred May and his nine family members have been living on the R44 roadside near Paarl. They were evicted from the Windmeul Kelder wine farm on March 26, where they had lived for almost 40 years.

The May family have been squatting outside the farm gates ever since the eviction, with all their belongings, including couches, mattresses and a cupboard, with only a plastic sheet covering them.

Elna Brown, who is dating May’s son, Dumsani, said the family were trying to maintain some normality.

“The children are living with my sister so they can still bath and go to school. I’m still attending college and writing exams. It’s hard because we are still sleeping outside,” she said.

Billy Claasen, director of the Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation, said: “It has been hot, windy, and it has rained, but with God’s grace, the family survives. They are unemployed and in desperate need of funding so they can buy food.”

The family’s troubles began after May was fired for alleged misconduct in 2008.

A two-year legal battle with Windmeul to evict them ended last month. The directors and management of Windmeul Kelder detailed their version of events, making several allegations against May and his family.

The family have repeatedly rejected the Drakenstein Municipality’s offer to house them at the caravan park in New Orleans, Paarl. The building offered to them is not big enough to house ten people and their belongings. The park is already home to over 150 evictees who have been living in tents for over a year. The small brick structure offered to the May family is currently used as a washroom. It often floods due to leaking pipes.

Gerald Esau, director of community services at Drakenstein Municipality, said: “Our offer is still on the table.”

He said the New Orleans Park was the only available option to place families in need of emergency accommodation in the area. He said construction at the municipality’s emergency housing project recently came to an abrupt halt after the property was illegally occupied.

“This area was recently invaded by the surrounding community, who refuse for these evictees to be accommodated in the area. We could therefore only offer New Orleans Park to the Windmeul evictees,” Esau said.

Lawyers representing the family are now gearing up to challenge their eviction in the Randburg Land Claims Court on April 25. They will also be asking the court to evaluate the living conditions of the alternative accommodation offered by the municipality.

Originally published on GroundUp (emphasis by SDLAW*).

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. Contact a Cape Town Attorney for eviction help 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: