Families evicted from Klein Akker farm are living in harsh conditions on state-owned farm Mesco. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza says her department was still engaging the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town to find a lasting solution for people recently evicted at a Kraaifontein farm.

Didiza said this in a written response to a parliamentary question form EFF's Patrick Sindane.

Sindane has asked her about interventions her department has undertaken to help the 300 people evicted from the Klein Akker farm and whether she was considering legislation that would put a moratorium on evictions from land.

Didiza said the evicted people were homeless people of different races, who had occupied a private farm over a period of years in the City of Cape Town, required shelter. 

"Though the intervention required was not necessarily a land reform one, it was considered purely on humanitarian grounds since the people concerned were, for some days, located on the side of the road during extremely harsh weather conditions."

She said her department has provided temporary accommodation on a state farm in the Stellenbosch area.

"Since this is not a permanent solution, engagements are continuing with the Western Cape Provincial Government and the affected municipalities (City of Cape Town and Stellenbosch Municipality) to find a lasting solution for the evicted persons," Didiza said.

Responding to a question moratorium on farm evictions, Didiza said South Africa has a constitutional dispensation that recognised and protected the rights of those who own land at the same time protecting the rights of those who lawfully occupy land that belongs to others.

"The legislature has therefore since 1996 passed laws to provide statutory recognition of occupation rights to persons that lawfully occupy land."

Didiza also said since the laws that protected occupation rights on land were meant to balance relationships between occupants and landowners, they do provide for situations where occupation rights could be lawfully terminated and evictions then follow.

She also said evictions were however subjected to a judicial process and self-help measures by landowners are criminalised.

"In recognition of the fact that lawful occupants of land may not have means to assert and protect their occupation rights, government provides financial assistance towards legal representation to those whose occupation rights are either threatened or terminated. 

"This ensures that access to justice is provided to lawful land occupants in the event of land occupation matters having to be judicially considered," Didiza said.

Political Bureau