Family dumped at roadside

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

When the land claims court ruled in favour of a farm owner, the Mbatha family found themselves homeless.

Mzikayifani Mbatha and his family spent the rainy weekend on the roadside after they were kicked off the farm they had lived on for nearly 30 years.

Farmer Francois Johannes Koch, of Eengagevonden farm, in Vryheid in northern KwaZulu-Natal, applied for a court order to evict the family last year after he had a tussle with Mbatha.

Mbatha's belongings, including furniture, were dumped on the roadside after he failed to obey the court order that he find somewhere else to live.

Mbatha, 49, has been sleeping in the open since Wednesday, when his belongings were loaded onto a truck by the sheriff of the court and dumped at the side of the road. The furniture and other belongings were damaged during a weekend storm.

"I have been in a tussle with Koch for many years. He was trying to chase us away from the farm. My wife worked on this farm for years, but we are being humiliated like this. I have no place to stay except here along the road.

"My children are not going to school because they cannot find their uniforms after all our belongings were dumped on the road.

"We claimed this farm in 1997 and our application is still in progress but I can do nothing because the farmer got authority from the court to throw me out," he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Vusi Zuma, said the department would investigate the dispute.

The mayor of Vryheid, George Dlamini, said alternative accommodation for the family would be found.

"We are thinking of moving them into a community hall temporarily," said Dlamini.

The Abaqulusi municipality has given the Mbatha family a tent in which to sleep.