Evicted families stuck in Paarl caravan park for a year

About 52 families have been living in green canvas tents for more than a year at New Orleans camping site in Paarl South, GroundUp reports.

They were evicted from farms in the surrounding Cape Winelands, including Simondium and Wellington.

The Drakenstein Municipality has offered the campsite as emergency accommodation, but is unable to say when the families can be moved to suitable accommodation.

Evictions in the broader Cape Winelands and in Drakenstein Municipality have created a crisis. At least 20 000 people are at risk of eviction on Drakenstein farms.

"When the day-campers leave, we go and check for a piece of meat or other leftovers so our children have something to eat," said Elsabe Goeieman, one of the people living in the caravan park.

"Sometimes they [day visitors] feel sorry for us and give us their leftover foods."

Eviction

Her family, together with most of the families in the park, were moved to the New Orleans camp after being evicted from a farm in Simondium known as Die Blou Huis on April 11, 2018.

GroundUp met Goeieman sitting outside on a weathered couch with her daughter and three other residents.

"Most of us are unemployed now because we used to work seasonally on farms around Simondium. We are really struggling... but what can we do?" she said.

Goeieman and her husband share a tent with their four children and two-month-old grandchild.

Inside, the family have placed makeshift partitions of plastic sheeting and material.

"It gets so hot inside in summer, so we would rather sit outside with the small baby. In winter, the wind blows through the holes in the tents and the tents flood when it rains and our things get damaged … There are also a few people with TB and living in tents doesn’t help," she said.

Goeieman said that since moving to the park, she had not been able to find a school for her 15-year-old daughter, Michelle. Michelle’s old school was about eight kilometres away from where they lived, and she would walk to school. She was forced to drop out a few weeks after they moved to the park.

Goeieman said that for months after being moved to the park, the children stayed home. Now, the younger children attend New Orleans Primary School, just a stone’s throw away from the park.

"We moved here in April, so we struggled to get our children into schools. The younger children got places, but not all the high schoolers. My child would love to go back, but when I went in January, no one could take her," said Goeieman.

When the group were first moved to the park, Goeieman said, they were told the tents were temporary and they would be moved to houses within months.

New Orleans camp

Elsabe Goeieman and her husband having been sharing a tent with their four children and two-month-old grandchild for a year, since being evicted from a farm in Simondium. 

"Drakenstein [Municipality] said they would build us Nutec [fibre cement board] houses, but we are still waiting. We have no idea when we will move… The only upside to living here is that we have electricity and running water," she said.

The group shares the park public toilets with day-campers.

A man living in the park, who identified himself only as Mr Scheepers, said: "Winters are a problem for us... Many of the tents blew over last year and we had to help people in the middle of the night put them back up. So imagine what will happen this winter."

Billy Claasen of the Rural Farm Workers Development Organisation said the situation was unacceptable. "The sewerage system is under severe pressure due to the influx of people there. People complain about the conditions there and no one listens."

Claasen accused the municipality of using the park as a "dumping ground" for people evicted from surrounding areas instead of providing "dignified" accommodation.

Gerald Esau, director of Community Services at Drakenstein Municipality, said its emergency housing plans had been brought to a halt by opposition from the community.

"An emergency housing project with improved basic services is being constructed in an area called Schoongezicht. Unfortunately, it was recently invaded by the surrounding community who refuse that the evicted people be accommodated accommodated there," he said.

New Orleans

The Drakenstein Municipality has offered the New Orleans campsite as emergency accommodation for people evicted from farms but it is unclear when the families can be moved to suitable accommodation.

"Drakenstein Municipality is providing 24-square-metre Nutec structures to the families, but cannot provide a time frame as we are not sure how long the negotiations with the surrounding community will take," said Esau.

Last month, a family of 11 who were evicted from the Windmeul Kelder wine farm, repeatedly rejected the municipality's offer to house them at the caravan park. The building offered to them, which was being used as a washroom, is not big enough to house them and their belongings. The family is currently sitting by the R44 roadside.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 829 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 9539 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 1115 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.99
+0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.16
-0.3%
Rand - Euro
17.64
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.55
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.2%
Gold
1,712.49
-0.0%
Silver
20.76
+0.5%
Palladium
2,260.50
-0.1%
Platinum
930.50
+0.6%
Brent Crude
94.42
+1.1%
Top 40
59,193
-0.4%
All Share
65,550
-0.4%
Resource 10
63,540
+0.4%
Industrial 25
79,336
-0.9%
Financial 15
13,969
-0.2%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE