State to explain in court how farmworkers were evicted without alternative housing
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Johannesburg - The tables are turning against the government in a court case pursued on behalf of 13 former farmworkers evicted with their families and belongings from a farm in Ventersdorp.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the JB Marks Local Municipality face being slapped with costly court orders after the Blesbokfontein farm evictions.
The two government entities have been ordered to be present at the Land Claims Court to explain how farmworkers were evicted without alternative accommodation.
Tsakane Julius Moeketsi and fellow former Blesbokfontein workers spent two nights with their children and belongings in the open last week following the eviction.
They were evicted by company Bau-La-Mont Landgoed, Natasja Roodt, Daniel Joubert and Elizabeth Pretorius.
The company and individuals had links to the farm’s deceased lessee, who employed the evicted ex-farmworkers.
They obtained the eviction order under the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA), a piece of legislation that protected residency rights of workers on land they had occupied for 10 years.
ESTA stipulates people have right of residence on land they have occupied as workers for 10 years, provided they are 60 or can no longer work due to ill health, injury or disability.
Goabusi Jan Seleke, 64, had worked and stayed on the farm since 1977. Most of his colleagues arrived in the 1990s and 2000s.
Bau-La-Mont Landgoed, Roodt, Joubert and Pretorius acted to remove the former workers from the farm on the ground they were no longer employees. The farmworkers contested their axing from employment.
They were not represented in the eviction proceedings, a point the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) found unjust. Louise du Plessis, attorney at LHR, said the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was obligated to obtain lawyers for workers facing evictions.