Evicted farmhands live in open

FARM dwellers are often left destitute when the baas no longer has any use for them.

Agnes Maseala, 31, has lived her whole life on a smallholding near Benoni, Ekurhuleni, on which she was born, until the farmer decided to sell the property.

"I did not know about the sale until it was too late. I was born there and have nowhere else to go," Maseala said.

The mother of three says she is unemployed and living in the open "because this government does not care".

She is among 70 people now squatting in an open veld in Chief Albert Luthuli Park. On Thursday the metro police dismantled the tents the small community used for shelter.

The residents worked as domestic helpers in houses a few metres from the veld they now call home.

"How are children supposed to come back from school and do homework in this environment? This has a negative effect," community leader William Madalane said.

"We first lived near a golf course not far from here, but the white boys were using us for target practice with their rubber bullets.

"Tired of this, we invaded some RDP houses but we were evicted.

"About two years ago the municipality sent representatives from the housing department to put us on a list for RDP houses.

"They said they would treat our applications as urgent, but we have yet to see proof of this."

Madalane said he had not seen documentation pertaining to their official status as applicants for RDP houses.

Eastern Region executive manager of housing Eddie Nkomotse, said the residents were not being honest.

"The problem is that you are dealing with people who are not telling the truth," he said. "The owners (of the farms where they worked) gave them notices (of the sale of the properties) as well as a sum of money to allow them to seek alternative accommodation."

Sowetan understands that the residents obtained a court order on Friday preventing their eviction by the Red Ants as well as by regional housing officials.

The court interdict also ordered that the residents' belongings be returned within 12 hours of their removal, but that had not happened.