‘I would like to die here’

2020-03-10 06:03
Micheala Jaftha with her daughter Zeyana Jaftha and Cecil Morkel PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Micheala Jaftha with her daughter Zeyana Jaftha and Cecil Morkel PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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The fight over a piece of land in Noordhoek has lasted 13 years, and still there seems to be no end in sight.

Several families who have lived on the corner of Noordhoek Main Road and Kenali Close for generations are at loggerheads with the current property owner, Judy Sole.

The families, who say they have been living on the property since even before 1950, claim they made verbal agreements with the previous owner, Japie De Villiers, to live on parts of the farm. When De Villiers died, they continued to reside on the plot.

According to Sole she bought the 1.45 hectare property in 2006. It was on auction for R3.1 million.

She says she notified the residents that they would have to move out in 2016 but received no response from them until she served them with the official notice of eviction.

The residents allegedly appealed the eviction under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act, and later argued that their residence on the property was covered by the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA). ESTA deals with the eviction of residents illegally residing on rural or peri-urban land.

According to ESTA, long-term occupiers (those persons who have resided on a farm for more than 10 years and are over 60 years of age) cannot be evicted. This applies to those who cannot provide labour to a land owner as a result of ill health, disability or injury. The court case is still unresolved.

Cecil Morkel lives with his family in one part of the old main building on the farm. It was built around 1927.

In terms of ESTA, a person who has an income in excess of the prescribed amount of R5 000 can be evicted.

Morkel says he only has a part-time job, which does not bring in much money.

Another resident, Walter Sampson, lives in an informal home put up on the property after the building he occupied collapsed. He says he has lived there all his life. “I was born here – at False Bay Hospital – and I’ve always lived here,” says the 50-year-old.

He works one day a week in Kommetjie.

His daughter, Berendine, lives with him. For a small income, she takes care of a child belonging to one of the residents during the day and sells fire wood. She says the farm is the only home she’s ever known.

“I would like to die on this farm. My grandparents died here and all of us were born here – my kids were also born here.”

Residents say, if Sole were to offer them alternative living arrangements, they would be open to it provided it would be in Noordhoek.

But Chris Middelbrook, an attorney representing one of the residents, says relocation will probably result in them being moved to Ocean View, Blikkiesdorp, Delft or Wolwerivier.

Berendine says none of them would like to move to any of these locations as the Noordhoek community is all they know and the farm is where they make their living.

Marilyn Morkel and Kathy Liell-Cock were offered monetary compensation to leave. Morkel took the option several years ago, but according to her daughter, Micheala Jaftha (who still lives on the farm), her mother was never paid in full.

“The deal was that Marilyn and her whole household were to leave. So I paid her half of the money and only she left. The rest of them are still there,” says Sole.

She says all of the other residents have agreed to leave, except Morkel’s family and the Sampson family. The next court date is set for later this month.

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