Evicted families to fight back

2013-08-07 00:00

THE families being evicted from an Estcourt farm are not taking their eviction lying down.

With the help of the Department of Land Affairs, they are going to court to have the order to evict them rescinded and their status on the land restored and soon after they plan to approach the land claims court to gain full rights to the land.

Yesterday, the land owner Anne Markham, who was granted a court order by the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court to evict the people from her Wagendrift Farm, continued to demolish their homes. About five families comprising at least 20 people have been affected.

On Friday last week, she demolished one homestead belonging to the Mkhize family. But by Sunday afternoon the residents had rebuilt a structure there.

Sipho Dlamini of Land Affairs said they had hired a lawyer, Sundeep Singh, to represent the families and have the court order rescinded.

Singh said he will fight to have people’s rights to the land restored and their homes rebuilt.

“The order was granted based on incorrect information … if it goes to the high court it will be thrown out,” he said.

“They used the Pie act [Prevention of Illegal Evictions] which states that if people had been living on the land for less than six months, they must be evicted. They [the landowners] said of their own volition that these people had been living on that land for the past eight years, which means they cannot be evicted.”

Gcina Shabalala of the Landless People’s Movement said, “We are going to the land claims court to get the people’s land back.

“The police came and said there were going to be negotiations today and therefore we should not block the entrance, instead when she came, they escorted her in and they started demolishing all the houses in the farm.

“Today [yesterday] she demolished all the structures and all the families including a six-month-old baby have been left destitute with nowhere to sleep,” said Shabalala.

“They were taking the people’s belongings and dumping them on the road. She did not even comply with the order that she should transport those belongings for a distance no more than 20 kilometres,” he said.

Ig van Rooyen, the lawyer representing Markham, said they were not aware the department was intending to fight the evictions.

Dlamini said they were negotiating with municipalities to find temporary accommodation for the affected families.

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