A march to Parliament by hundreds of farmers occupying provincial land in Faure – between Khayelitsha and Eerste River – in protest against being evicted, was drowned out by football fans blowing vuvuzelas in a midday show of support for Bafana Bafana on Wednesday.
Protestors had to huddle together to hear march organisers speaking over a single loudspeaker as Capetonians blew vuvuzelas and motorists leaned on their horns metres away.
Organiser Martha Stuurman, representing the iThemba Farmers Association, furiously shouted over the loudspeaker that “they (people blowing vuvuzelas) are happy while we suffer, and when they are hungry from blowing the vuvuzelas they are going to run to the farmers for food. Then we will say go back and blow your vuvuzelas”.
The marchers’ grievances contained in a memorandum which was accepted by Department of Housing MEC spokesperson Zalisile Mbali, detailed their opposition to the land they were occupying being allocated as a Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) for residents of informal settlements in low-lying areas that would be affected by annual winter flooding.
iThemba Farmers Association chairperson Craig Jonkers said 300 people made a living by cultivating and keeping livestock on the land in Faure, some of them for up to 25 years.
Jonkers said the farmers, who had received an order to halt their farming activities in May last year, refused to give up the land for the establishment of a TRA.
Jonkers said five memorandums had been handed to Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela over the last year, but they were still being told to move over to accommodate a TRA.
“The families are refusing to move. Where are they going to continue with their farming if they are evicted from the land?” asked Jonkers.
“The family’s basic rights are being ignored and we will fight until the end.”
Norman Stephens, one of the farmers, said she would not be able to eat and she and her three children and her two nephews she cared for would go hungry if she was forced to stop farming on the land.
“I don’t know where they want us to go or where we will get food. We are refusing to move without an alternative place to stay with our animals,” she said.
Mbali said department had budgeted R96million to move over seven thousand people living in flooded zones in and around Khayelitsha onto the land.
He said the department was “still in negotiation” with the farmers so that people living in flood prone areas could have a dry, warm place to stay during winter. – West Cape News