Story of an African farm

2013-08-05 00:00

AN Estcourt land owner has threatened to unleash the feared Red Ants security to remove families who have lived on her farm after an eviction order was ignored.

Anne Markham told The Witness yesterday that she had been struggling with people “squatting” on her Wagendrift farm near the N3 past the town, which she bought in 2009.

Markham was granted an eviction order in May by the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court to remove five families, said to be living illegally on her farm.

They had until June 18 to move, but yesterday they were still there.

“I will now send the Red Ants. They will get the job done,” she said.

The Red Ants are known for their harsh and unforgiving removals in various parts of the country.

Matters came to a head this past week after Markham ordered the demolition of two buildings belonging to Joseph Mkhize, one of the people whom the court ordered should be evicted.

Markham’s lawyer, Rowen Meth, said she had opened two cases, one for the destruction of property and another for pointing a firearm.

Markham razed two brick buildings and took the Mkhize family’s belongings, which she dumped near the main road to Estcourt. She confirmed this, saying the court order allowed her to do so.

The order states that the structures built by the families should be demolished or removed, as well as any livestock.

It also states that Markham must assist the families to remove their belongings free of charge to an area no further than 20 kilometres from her farm.

The families had until June 18 to vacate the farm, failing which, the sheriff assisted by the SAPS or a registered private security company must enforce the eviction order.

The Witness understands that Markham extended her deadline to 4 pm yesterday.

However, some of the evicted families remained there and built a new structure, where the Mkhize dwelling had been demolished.

The families held an impromptu meeting outside the farm yesterday after they learnt Markham had laid tresspassing charges.

One of the farm dwellers, Lungisani Mtshali, said they had nowhere to go as they had lived in the area all their lives.

“We received eviction letters in June that we should be gone by June 18. On Friday she ordered a demolition. She demolished two houses and took the family’s belongings and dumped them on the road.

“The law in this country does not allow for arbitrary evictions. If you evict someone, you are supposed to provide them with alternative accommodation, yet that never happened.”

Mtshali (32) said he knew no other life except this one and could not go anywhere.

“I was born here and there are people who have lived here for over 40 years.”

Markham said she had tried to reason and assist those living on her land, but was unsuccessful and had to resort to evictions.

Local councillor Siphamandla Magubane said he had tried to intervene.

“I asked the land owner to sit down with me so we could talk this matter out and she said time for negotiation was over. She had already given me six weeks to sort the matter out. What could I do in six weeks?”

The families had lived on the land long before Markham bought it.

“They have graves and livestock and live there.”

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