Cape Town - Two brothers, who for the past 23 years have grown flowers on a farm in Tokai, are facing eviction and their employees face the prospect of life on the streets.
Those living on the property, which is the former Porter School in Orpen Road, include an 85-year-old woman, a toddler and three other children.
This month, the Flandorp brothers, who have built a thriving business selling fresh cut flowers, received a letter from the state attorney acting on behalf of Premier Helen Zille and MEC for Transport and Public Works Donald Grant, giving them until next Monday to remove their goods and for all those unlawfully occupying the property to leave.
On Tuesday Alistair Flandorp said it felt like a dark cloud was hanging over them.
He has written to the Human Rights Commission and the mayor's office asking for help, but has yet to receive a reply. "Wherever we turn no one wants to help."
He said his father, Phillip Flandorp, started the business in 1993 after an agreement with the principal of the Porter School who had promised them a 99-year lease. "It was just a handshake in those days, so we don't have a lease."
He and his brother Desmond have been running the flower and compost business since then. They provide a service to horse owners in Tokai and Constantia by collecting manure and composting it.
Flandorp employs about 30 people, 12 of whom live on the property. Prisoners from Pollsmoor Prison are also employed.
Western Cape transport and public works department spokesman Byron la Hoe said the department had on numerous occasions tried to enter into a lease agreement with Flandorps prior to issuing eviction notices.
"We were unable to reach an agreement with him on a market-related rental. Our policy does not allow us to rent out government properties for less than the market value. We have taken all possible steps to handle this matter fairly and the application for eviction is an absolute last resort."
Flandorp believes there are plans to turn the area into a new dump site after the closure of the Ladies Mile drop-off facility last year. But La Hoe said no decision had been taken on the future use of the property. Flandorp said they have worked hard to clear the land to make it suitable for planting. "If we leave now we will lose all the roses we have already planted."
He says he is worried about his employees who are set to lose everything. One of them, Mark Adams, who has lived on the farm for 20 years with his wife, Bonita, said he didn't have other family in Cape Town and would struggle to find a place to live with his wife and two children.
Sixty-year-old Sara Stock is also worried about where she will go come Monday.
When asked about the elderly people and children living on the farm, La Hoe said: "The affidavits submitted by Mr Flandorp made no mention of children living on the property." But he said they would be engaging with roleplayers such as the City of Cape Town to assist with finding alternative accommodation.
The Tokai Lions Club, based on the property, is also in the dark about its future. President Jules Blake said the club had been trying to extend its lease, with no success. She said at the end of June an invoice for rent had been put through their door by a company called Quay Properties.
"When I called to ask what was happening with our lease I was told they had just been appointed and the accounts were in a big mess and were being audited." Blake said it would be devastating to lose the building where they conduct a lot of community work.
La Hoe said he wasn't sure about plans for the Lions Club.