File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Organisations representing farmworkers say Drakenstein Municipality has the highest incidence of farm dweller evictions in the Cape wine region.

More than 200 farmworkers and dwellers marched to the municipal office yesterday, demanding a moratorium on farm evictions that had seemingly increased.

The march was led by activists from the Women on Farms Project (WFP), the Commercial Stevedoring Agriculture and Allied Workers Union, Mawubuye and Food Sovereignty.

WFP co-director Carmen Louw said evictions in the Drakenstein Municipality had reached crisis levels that could not be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

“There are still farm dwellers who live in relative squalor without decent basic services. This municipality has the highest incidence of farm dweller evictions but lacks mechanisms, resources and political will to provide decent alternative accommodation in cases where eviction orders are granted.

"Instead, evicted farmworkers and dwellers are accommodated in rural slums that are, in effect, being created by the municipality,” she said.

Louw said the municipality had been given until May 22 to respond to their demands as they doubted they would get any action before the national elections.

The activists handed over a memorandum asking the municipality for a comprehensive strategy for housing evicted farmworkers and dwellers.

According to the activists there were more than 1 200 eviction cases pending on the court roll. The municipality itself estimates that 20 000 people will be evicted.

Drakenstein Municipality has more than 40 families living in tents at a campsite in Paarl East after being evicted from a farm in Simondium. They lived there as a result of land invasions to the land earmarked for them.

The municipality blamed land invaders at a site called Schoongezicht as a reason why the families had not been relocated.

Drakenstein Municipality community services executive director Gerald Esau said: “The memorandum has been received. 

"The stalemate situation in relation to Schoongezicht persists. However, ongoing discussions are pursued with the surrounding communities to resolve the matter amicably.”

Cape Times