News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Faure emerging farmers face eviction

Sandiso Phaliso

Farmer Koos Sampies examines a court order telling him and 299 other people farming on provincial land in Faure on the outskirts of Cape Town, that they cannot expand their farming activities. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso/WCN                               Over 300 Faure farmers are facing the threat of eviction due to plans by the Western Cape Housing Department to use the land they farm for a housing development.

The land, which is owned by the provincial government and situated in Faure between Khayelitsha and Eerste River, has been occupied by some of the farmers for more than 10 years.

Following a successful application by the Western Cape Housing Department for an interdict to stop the farmers from working the land with immediate effect, which was granted by the Cape High Court on April 7, the farmers have written to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille pleading for her intervention to stop the process that would see them evicted from the land.

Should they be evicted, they said in a May 7 letter, they would live without a source of income as most were self-employed.

The farmers were not trying to impede the housing department “however we must state that the right to urban agriculture is as important as the right to housing. People in the cities cannot just be expected to buy from the shops, they cannot afford it. People must be able to do something for themselves.”

The letter, written by the iThemba Farmers Association, which is representing the farmers, made clear the farmers could not afford a lengthy court procedure but would not “give up without a fight”.

“We want to be convinced that this mixed development is concrete and that significant steps have been taken to manifest it. We get the feeling that this development was suddenly spawned when the department heard about people squatting illegally on what they then realized is their land.”

iThemba Farmers Association chairperson Craig Jonkers said: “All we can do is call on government to change their minds and on the public to support our fight. We are poor and government is not giving us jobs, so we try to help ourselves. Now they want to take everything away.”

Ricardo Jacobs, chairperson of the Surplus People Project, which is supporting the farmers, questioned the suitability of the land for a mixed housing development, saying it was a flood-prone wetland and was zoned as agricultural land.

“When will they learn that housing developments without proper consultation fail, like it failed in Delft, Langa and Crossroads? Government has no excuse to attack the poor like this.”

Contacted this week for comment, the housing department said it had acquired the land for “integrated, sustainable human settlement development”.

Housing Department head Shanaaz Majiet said the development would not only provide houses, but would also cater for the various needs of the community by providing for social and economic facilities.

By applying for the interdict, Majiet said the housing department was protecting the department’s property from being illegally sold and unlawfully occupied.

He said the department had met the farmers and explained their plans for the land.

“Suitable available land for human settlement development in the City is becoming very scarce and the department must ensure that it uses every portion of land optimally.”

However, the Department had undertaken to facilitate a meeting with the appropriate institutions who would investigate available alternatives for the farmers.

Majiet said: “Although it would be preferable that the farmers vacate the land on a voluntary basis, the department will consider the options available to it [evictions] with due consideration given to the interests of the broader community.” — West Cape News

Tags: farming, faure, Housing

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One Response to “Faure emerging farmers face eviction”

  1. admin says:

    Really like this story and it raises important issues about urban food security. It seems like often the problem is not that people can’t feed themselves, but that they are obstructed from doing so.

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