Paddock couple facing eviction fear a homeless Christmas

2018-11-22 06:00

A HOMELESS couple moved from Durban to Paddock about a year ago on the premise that they would work and stay on a sugar cane farm, but now they claim they were never remunerated and are further facing eviction.

Lawrence Farquharson (57) and his wife Patricia (48) say they have found themselves in a desperate situation after accepting what seemed to be a “dream job” from a farm manager around this time last year.

“My late uncle used to work at the farm and one day he called us saying that there was an opportunity to work and stay at the farm, as was relayed to him by his then manager,” said Farquharson.

“We were living at the Bluff in Durban at the time, however we were unemployed so we packed up all our things and left for Paddock,” he said. Soon after they started working at the farm, they realised that the reality of their employment was very different to what was promised to them.

At the farm, the Farquharsons were never paid a cent and so, to survive, they sold off most of their property to the locals in the area.

Gradually, Farquharson said things started to deteriorate for them at the farm and the manager that had made all the promises to them left. Farquharson’s uncle, who was living with them, also died from what was said to be natural causes.

“Well, one day he got up to go to the toilet and collapsed and died. They said it was due to natural causes, however it still came as a shock to us because he seemed perfectly healthy,” said Farquharson.

The day before his uncle’s funeral, the Farquharsons were served with a 24-hour notice to vacate the premises by the new owner.

Without anywhere to go, and with no resources or transport, Farquharson said he sought help from legal aid, who presented him with a letter to give to the owner stating their reasons for being unable to move and the legal ramifications of forcefully removing them.

The eviction notice was served to them in August however it was extended to December. Currently, the Farquharsons say they find themselves facing an issue of impending homelessness.

“We have been looking all over for homeless shelters that we can move to, but most of the places require someone to be earning a pension or social grant, otherwise they are not even bothered to help,” said Farquharson, adding that Tent City in Margate would be willing to take them in but not their two dogs.

The manager at the Department of Agriculture in Port Shepstone, Alseen Cwele, said issues of land and farming relations were usually dealt with by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, however the incident in particular seemed to be an employer to employee relations dispute, in which government departments usually did not intervene.

“These kind of situations are usually completely dependant on what the agreement was between the two parties upon assumption of employment or residence at the farm,” said Cwele.

The farm manager could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

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