Uncertain future for farm families
FORTY-EIGHT families who have lived on a farm for 19 years are faced with eviction, a court case and being moved to a place where they do not want to live.
The Johannesburg Land Claims Court this week sat in settlement discussions between the occupants of Lindley Farm in Lanseria, north of Johannesburg, and Cradle City, an estimated R35-billion project of commercial, industrial and residential facilities around Lanseria Airport. No agreement was reached.
Reckson Mudzanani, of Mafrica Displaced Community Centre, who represented the residents, said the people refused to move to Diepsloot, also north of Johannesburg.
"Discussions were closed for the day with no agreement made. The people refuse to move and they will continue living there until there is a resolution," he said.
According to the City of Johannesburg's database, 38 families qualify for government housing subsidies at a location already provided in Diepsloot.
For the remaining families, the database showed they had already benefited in other parts of the country, therefore disqualifying them.
Mudzanani said the meetings were aimed at finding solutions and for everyone to get houses at Cosmo City, regardless of the database.
"We are not happy that the government is dumping us in a bad place. Cradle City is supposed to provide houses for everyone," he said.
Mudzanani added that the residents were now facing two landowners.
In 1993, the residents moved from another farm where they were experiencing hardship and entered into an agreement with Lindley Farm's former director Jacobus Gustavus Pansegrouw.
"We had an agreement with Pansegrouw that we would occupy his land for as long as he did not need it for any development. He also said if he needed the land, he would move us to the other side of the farm and then build us houses elsewhere should we have to move completely," said the residents.
In April 2008 tragedy struck the small community when Lindley demolished their homes after a court order.
The residents took Lindley to court and Judge Fikile Bam ruled in their favour.
Lindley was ordered to rebuild the houses, but instead brought a tent.
Again Lindley was challenged in court and it was proven that the tent was not suitable as it did not afford the people any privacy.
While awaiting judgment, the residents built shacks.
Lindley testified that they could not afford to build the required units.
The court said: "Lindley Farm (Pty) Ltd does not have any resources at all. The company also has no nett income as the persons that resided there did not pay their rent, and have not been doing so for more than three years."
The case was repealed and the court ordered that residents must be reinstated on farm. The houses no longer required building as shacks had already been built.
During the case, Lindley sold the farm to Cradle City.
In 2009 Cradle City sought an eviction order against the residents in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, which states that the state should provide assistance to facilitate long-term security of land tenure; regulate the conditions of residence on certain land; regulate the conditions on and circumstances under which the right of persons to reside on land may be terminated; regulate the conditions and circumstances under which persons, whose right of residence has been terminated, may be evicted from land; and provide for matters connected therewith.
The residents and Cradle City will return to court for further discussions around their move.
A date has not been set.