Cape Town – The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has stepped in to provide accommodation to 300 evicted Klein Akker residents who have been living on the streets for a week.
Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha yesterday announced that the department would house the displaced families, from 93 households, on a state farm near Stellenbosch.
In what was described as a cruel and barbaric act, the 300 people, including pensioners, women and children, were evicted after Odvest, the registered owner of the land, obtained an eviction order with intentions to develop the land into an industrial or semi-industrial property.
The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has since challenged the eviction, charging that a failure by the City to provide appropriate alternative accommodation to the families, as well as the way in which the eviction was carried out by the property owner, amounted to a violation of various human rights.
Skwatsha yesterday said he was shocked to witness the “inhumane” conditions the evictees were living under for the past week.
“As leaders we cannot just fold our hands while people are living on the streets. We have a responsibility to take care of the people, especially at difficult times like this one,” said Skwatsha.
As part of the national government’s intervention, Skwatsha said state farm Mesco, located just off Bottelary Road, was available to accommodate the evictees while a permanent solution was sought.
Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement spokesperson Wendy Pekeur said the evictees were elated.
“The residents are very happy. The farm has shelter where residents will now have a roof over their heads.
"There is no electricity and water at the moment but the department is working on getting this sorted," she said.
SAHRC provincial commissioner Andre Gaum said the commission supported the department’s decision.
“The access to education and the interests of the children is of paramount importance. If this is a better alternative and the residents are happy with the temporary solution, then that is great news,” said Gaum.
Mayor Dan Plato welcomed the national government’s intervention.
“This is very welcomed as it cannot fall only to a municipality to assist with the pressures brought on by rapid urbanisation and the acute need for accommodation."