Western Cape farmer back on land after govt overturns 'irregular' eviction

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Thoko Didiza.
Thoko Didiza.
FELIX DLANGAMANDLA
  • Western Cape farmer Ivan Cloete will no longer be evicted from his farm. 
  • Minister Thoko Didiza found there were irregularities in the department's land acquisition strategy in the matter.
  • She submitted a report to Parliament's portfolio committee on agriculture, rural development and land reform on Monday.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development says an eviction order issued by the National Land Acquisition and Allocation Control Committee against a Western Cape farmer should be set aside. 

This after an investigation was launched into the matter.   

READ | Investigation to be launched into Western Cape farm eviction

Farmer Ivan Cloete faced being evicted from a farm previously allocated to him by the department. 

The eviction was allegedly carried out "to make way for an MK veteran". 

Cloete was allocated a farm in Colenso, but was then given a relocation notice.

However, in a report on the investigation conducted by the department - and submitted to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mandla Mandela - Minister Thoko Didiza said: "It is clear that, ever since 2012, Mr Cloete was not treated fairly."

"The reasons tabled on the investigation report highlight the suspicious predetermined decision by senior officials at a provincial and national level to allocate the farm to military veterans, leaving Mr Cloete stranded yet again," said Didiza.

She added that Cloete's case highlighted improper conduct and irregularities in the department's land acquisition process.  

"This case portrays the department as being cruel and lacks empathy in dealing with real issues that affect lives and livelihoods."

Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer said that Cloete's saga was a "sad" story of the injustice in the country's land reform.

"Farmer Ivan Cloete can now celebrate Human Rights Day with his family and his agri-workers on his farm... this is a victory for all farmers in South Africa," he said.

The DA welcomed Didiza's report, saying they would now be calling for disciplinary action to be taken against the department’s officials who were at the "forefront of harassing Mr Cloete with an unlawful eviction order".  

"Mr Cloete will now be allocated Colenso farm, which is the farm that he currently resides on, and provided with a 30-year lease agreement on the same terms that are applicable to commercial leases," said DA MP Annette Steyn.  

Steyn added:

In fact, the report goes on to say that: 'From the investigation, it is clear that the Colenso farm was to be allocated to Mr Cloete but senior officials of the Department decided to allocate it to yet another person'. This confirms what the DA has always argued, the DALRRD has been hijacked by corrupt officials who took it upon themselves to parcel out land to their preferred recipients while trampling on the rights of defenceless citizens who have no friends in high places.

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