farmworkers

The eviction of poor farmworkers in the province has reached a tipping point, the ANC has said, following three families being evicted from the Simondium Guest Lodge in Franschhoek at the weekend.

The party has called for a moratorium on evictions, and lambasted the DA for a “lack of action against these evictions”.

The eviction comes as about 200 families have reportedly already been evicted from other farms across the province this year.

Earlier this year, Drakenstein municipal manager Lauren Waring conceded that the municipality had become a “hot spot for evictions”, with more than 1 000 pending.

The human rights organisation Women on Farms Project has said it would write to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking for a moratorium on farm evictions.

Drakenstein ANC spokesperson Thembekile Mangena said they condemned the “arbitrary” evictions.

“This illegal act of provocation of land occupiers shows the God-like status placed by the DA-led municipality and province on farmers, who continue to disregard the law. The ANC has seen the continued attack on the most vulnerable, the elderly, people with disabilities, women and children by these unscrupulous farmers,” Mangena said.

The ANC has also called on the government to test the constitution on land expropriation.

“The present power imbalances between farmers and labour tenants are based on centuries of discriminatory laws which have disadvantaged farmworkers. The current abuses of power and unilateral actions by farmers spit in the face of a free non-racial democratic society in which our rainbow nation aims to achieve its goals.

“We urge the government to test the constitution on land expropriation without compensation, as farmworkers are having their dignity stripped by evictions. The evicted people will now be forced to go live in uninhabited areas with no water and sanitation,” he said.

Numerous attempts to get comment from Simondium Guest Lodge were unsuccessful yesterday.

The spokesperson for Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde, Bianca Capazorio, said their department would be following up the matter to determine the circumstances around the evictions.

Capazorio said the Western Cape was the only province to have a farmworker support unit in the country.

She said the mandate to implement the Security of Tenure Act rested with the national Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

“Any workers seeking legal redress will have to approach them for assistance, but the Western Cape’s farmworker support unit, the only such unit in the country, would be able to provide support and assistance to agri workers in distress. The Western Cape government has been engaging with the Human Rights Commission for several months now on the issue of evictions, and will continue to do so in a bid to ensure that all rights are upheld,” Capazorio added.

Mangena said they would assist the residents in laying charges against those at Simondium Guest Lodge.

“Over the years we have seen with disgust how the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 has been abused and at times not even acknowledged by ruthless farmers. The act gives special rights to long-term occupiers. If you are older than 60, and you have lived on the land for 10 years, or if you become disabled or sick while you were employed by the owner, you can stay on that land for the rest of your life. These ‘long-term occupiers’ may not normally be evicted,” Mangena said.

The chairperson of the African Farmers Association of South Africa, Ismail Motala, said the government and the Agriculture Department needed to come out against evictions. “We do not support these evictions and are of the belief that no evictions should be taking place on any farms.”

Source – IOL