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Farm dwellers want government's help

By unknown | Oct 10, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Farm dwellers evicted from Thenderboard farm in Bergville in northern KwaZulu-Natal have appealed to the provincial government for help.

They said they were illegally evicted by farmer John Potgieter.

Worker Sibusiso Miya said their belongings were also burnt.

He said his late parents lived and worked on Thenderboard for more than 30 years.

Farmworkers said they opened a case of illegal eviction at the local police station against Potgieter, but police had done nothing to help them.

Thabo Manyathi, spokesman for the Association for Rural Advancement (Afra), challenged the Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana and her provincial counterpart, MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, to act on their expropriation promises.

Manyathi said: "Landless people are victimised on a daily basis by farmers who conduct illegal evictions.

"We hope the ministers will set an example on expropriation in this case.

"Xingwana had threatened to expropriate land belonging to farmers who illegally evict landless people," Manyathi said.

Potgieter's lawyer, who did not want his name published, rejected both Miya's and Afra's claims.

He said the dwelling in question was a run-down mud hut that had been standing empty for more than two years and that his client had offered to rehouse the family in an old brick school structure.

In a separate case, the Landless People's Movement (LPM) at Dannhauser in northern KwaZulu- Natal has threatened to "take over by force" the Slytelspoort farm following the alleged illegal eviction of farm dweller Lizzy Nkosi and her family.

The LPM has given Mthimkhulu until November 15 to force the farmer to allow Nkosi and her family to return.

Meanwhile, Mthimkhulu said the recently launched Provincial Land and Agrarian Reform Forum (Plarfo) would begin the task of addressing the adversarial relations growing between farmers, farmworkers and farm dwellers.

Mthimkhulu said his office had already begun documenting incidents of abuse and illegal evictions for discussion with organisations such as the LPM, his department, the Land Affairs Department and representatives of organised agriculture.

"With regard to the Nkosi family, I have asked the land reform office of the Land Affairs Department to furnish me with a detailed report.

"I have been made aware that the department has handled the case before," said Mthimkhulu.

'We hope the minister will set an example on expropriations in this case'


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