KZN farmer's bid to evict foreign nationals continues

2016-06-04 08:52
The refugee children at the Hope Farm attend a class in September 2015. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

The refugee children at the Hope Farm attend a class in September 2015. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg – The case involving a Cato Ridge family and 14 foreign nationals, who allegedly refuse to leave their Hope Farm, is back in court on Monday.

Rae and Andrew Wartnaby filed an eviction notice at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in a bid to claim their property back.

Rae Wartnaby told News24 on Friday that she and her eight children had been living in a place of safety for seven weeks because they feared for their lives.

“I am keeping my children safe until the refugees leave the farm.”

Wartnaby claimed that the family had become prisoners in their own home when one of the refugees, a Burundian man named Vital, who is apparently the leader of the group, refused to let the family leave the property on more than one occasion.

“He stands at the gate and controls access into the farm. He is helping himself to relief food that is for disadvantaged communities.”

Xenophobic attacks

In July last year the family opened their 20-hectare farm in Killarney Valley, to about 143 foreign nationals, including children, who were displaced during xenophobic attacks in the province.

The family ensured that the refugees, most of them from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, had shelter, were fed, clothed, and that their children were educated, Andrew Wartnaby previously said.

Things took a turn for the worst when government officials told the family they were housing the refugees illegally and that they had contravened a land-usage by-law as their farm was strictly zoned as agricultural land.

They were given until September 2015 to evict the refugees.

Threats

In December, some of the foreigners demanded to be relocated to Canada, or sent back to their home countries.

They allegedly threatened to attack the farmer and harm his family.

In March, the family asked 101 of the refugees to leave after relations soured.

In May, the family asked the remaining refugees to vacate their farm and after they allegedly refused, they approached the court.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  refugees

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