There are growing fears that more farmworkers are in danger of being evicted.
“The farm evictions in the Western Cape have grown extensively over the last few months. We are dealing with a number of cases from Ladysmith, Robertson, Ashton and Barrydale,” said Malizo Kwinana, local organiser of the Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU).
He said that the majority of these evictions were not legal.
According to CSAAWU, over 150 farmworkers who were evicted are now living in tents in a caravan park on the eastern edge of Paarl in the Drakenstein Municipality. Earlier this month, a family of 10 was evicted from the Windmeul Kelder Wine Farm after living there for 38 years.
“We want to send a clear message that the situation for many farmworkers is getting worse.
“How many other farmworkers are living in caravan parks. And the farmers evicting them, and the farmlands that they once lived on, remain productive and functioning.”
Earlier this month, the Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to halt farmworker evictions to allow for proper input from the departments of Social Development and Education.
“We held a picket last Thursday in Goodwood to highlight the issue of Langeberg where there are evictions happening frequently.
“We will be reconvening this week to strategise a way forward.”
Economic Opportunities MEC Beverley Schäfer said: “I am not sure how this will be solved in the near future, we need a solution for this. There needs to be a new development for living. You can’t put a blanket on this and you can’t generalise this because each farm eviction is different.
“The current legislation to protect and highlight the plight of farmworkers evictions is the Establishment of Security of Tenure Act that was implemented in 1997, which is a specific protective response to the arbitrary and rampant evictions,” she said.
“The problem is that their has been no implementation or enforcement from national government.
“What we need to do is look at how we can protect farmers rights and farm workers rights.”