Family living on Paarl roadside loses case to overturn eviction from farm

A family living alongside a Paarl road will have to brave the cold for longer than they hoped after the Land Claims Court dismissed their application for the rescission of their eviction.

Nomabongo Sweetness May and her household of 10 remain in their tent, where they have lived for months after being evicted from their house at Windmeul Cellars across the road.

The destitute family’s legal team on Thursday said they believed the matter was appealable and was in the process of reviewing the judgment.

Shebeen allegations

The case against the Mays stemmed from allegations that they had run a shebeen from their farm cottage, after a friend was seen taking two bottles of beer back home with him after a visit, May previously told News24.

Her husband lost his job, and 10 years of stop-start negotiations followed as the family refused to leave.

The winery owners' order that they be evicted was carried out by the sheriff of the court on March 26, while private security officials monitored.

Also read: Evicted from their home, farmworker’s family camp in an old clinic

According to the farm owners, they had been patient and had consulted extensively. They countered that they had extended deadlines over the 10 years, and had tried to resolve the situation.

The relationship of trust had broken down completely with their employee, the farm owners said. The Mays had refused to leave and, in the interim, sales of liquor and drugs were allegedly happening from the dismissed employee's home.

The Mays were also accused of destroying property.

Agreed to leave

According to the farm owners, the family only engaged a lawyer last year and had agreed to leave on or before January 15, or be evicted.

When they did not leave in January, they were given two more months to find somewhere to live, but eventually, on March 26, an eviction order was carried out.

May’s legal team said that, among the reasons why it found the case appealable was the inclusion of hearsay evidence, as well as a number of aspects regarding the merits of the case being misconstrued.

They also said the judgment appeared to punish the applicants for not accepting the accommodation offered by the Drakenstein Municipality.

The accommodation, May’s legal team pointed out, was initially a tent at the New Orleans Park township. When this was refused, a 5x4m Wendy house was offered for the 10 people. This, too, was declined, as were two such Wendy houses that were later proposed.

Director of the Rural and Farmworkers' Development Organisation, Billy Claassen, said he was extending an invitation to the presiding officer to spend one night in the alternative accommodation and another alongside the R44, where the family lives, to better understand their living conditions.

Attempts to reach May on Thursday were unsuccessful.

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