Concourt to rule on farm eviction dispute

2013-03-13 13:41

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Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court will hear an application on Thursday on the rights of land owners and their tenants.

Farm owner Lawrence Juta originally approached the Stellenbosch Magistrate's Court to evict some members of his former domestic worker's family.

Magrieta Hattingh continued staying on the farm after she had stopped working for Juta in terms of a previous agreement, which allowed her and her husband, who later died, to live in part of a labourer's cottage.

Hattingh's adult sons Pieter and Michael, and Michael's wife Edwina, moved in with her.

Edwina was temporarily employed by Juta. The two sons claim they occasionally also worked on the farm.

Hattingh's younger son Ricardo then moved in with his mother, as his job did not provide accommodation.

Juta wants Hattingh's older sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren off the property, because one of his employees needs accommodation.

'Right to a family life'

The Hattinghs argue that Magrieta, who Juta does not seek to evict, has the right to a family life in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act.

Under this legislation, an occupier has "a right to family life in accordance with the culture of that family".

Juta argues that this should not extend to adult self-reliant children, which the Hattinghs dispute.

The Stellenbosch Magistrate's Court ruled in favour of the Hattinghs, but Juta approached the Land Claims Court, which overturned that judgment and granted an eviction order.

The matter was then taken to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which upheld the Land Claims Court's ruling.

The Constitutional Court will consider the interpretation of the act and weigh up the Hattinghs' rights to family life with Juta's rights as a land owner.

The decision of the Constitutional Court on the meaning and ambit of an occupier's right to family life may affect many families who live on farms owned by their employers.

Read more on:    cape town  |  housing  |  land

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