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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC to address farm evictions

27 January 2019

Western Cape SAHRC Commissioner Chris Nissen said the meeting with the Magistrates’ Commission was intended to bring the plight of farm workers to its attention.

“We cannot influence the judiciary as it has to remain fair and independent. But the evictions of farm workers, whether legally or illegally, have led to the violation of their dignity as some had to spend days along the side of the road with nowhere to go.”
Also of concern, Nissen added, was that even though it was often claimed that the evicted farm workers understood the complicated Extension of Security of Tenure Act, when the evictions were carried out, the workers’ signatures were only indicated with an X.
The act regulates the relationship between people that live on land they do not own but with the consent of the owner, and places rights and responsibilities on both parties.
He said the body was also seeking a meeting with the municipality to discuss whether it had plans in place to find adequate alternative housing for farm workers who were evicted.
Widow Sanna Syster was left destitute after she and her family of two children and two grandchildren were evicted from Rustfontein farm in Slanghoek on January 16. The family has since been temporarily accommodated in an old vacant clinic.
Nissen said residents were also concerned about talk that an informal settlement which was established by the municipality to house evicted farm workers was soon to be removed to a place about 30km to 40km away.
The issue would be discussed with the Breede Valley municipality when the parties meet.
According to the Women on Farms Project (WFP), which has been calling for moratorium on farm evictions, women often bore the brunt of the evictions.
“It’s a common practice among the farm owners to evict women as soon as their partners pass away as they regard them as not having the right to live on the farm,” said WFP’s Carmen Louw.
The municipality said it held “a positive” engagement with the project as well as those affected by farm eviction on Tuesday (January 22) and the consensus was that various government departments would need to participate and collaborate at future engagements in order to resolve the issue.
A planned housing project on the R60 outside Worcester is scheduled for completion by 2022.
However, more than 800 units would be available despite a huge demand reflected by 25835 applications. “Some of these applications have been on the housing waiting list for over 20 years,” said the municipality.

Source: Weekend Argus

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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