Homeless Hope Farm family desperately wants to go back

2016-08-13 11:17

Durban – Cato Ridge farmer Rae Wartnaby and her husband Andrew desperately want to return to their farm, but cannot because they fear for their lives.

The family was trying to evict one foreign national still left on Hope Farm, but the person was refusing to leave, Rae said on Friday.

The couple had filed an eviction notice in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

"We are off the farm. Things have been getting increasingly difficult," said Rae, who was living in a place of safety with her eight children.

"We desperately want to go back home, but we cannot."

Wartnaby said some of the foreigners attacked a woman who was looking after their four dogs on the farm. They were arrested.

"There is still one foreigner left on the farm. We cannot go back until they are all gone. We are scared."

In July last year, the family opened their 20-hectare farm in Killarney Valley to about 140 foreign nationals, including children, who were displaced during xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natal.

They ensured that the refugees, most of them from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, had shelter, were fed and clothed, and that their children were educated, Andrew Wartnaby previously said.

Things took a turn for the worse when government officials told the family they were housing the refugees illegally and had contravened a land-usage by-law as their farm was strictly zoned as agricultural land.

They were given until September 2015 to evict the refugees. In December, some of the foreigners demanded to be relocated to Canada, or sent back to their home countries. They allegedly threatened to attack the family.

Some of them left. In May, the family asked the remaining refugees to leave. When they refused, the family approached the High Court.

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