A moratorium to stop farm evictions

At a dialogue in Simondium Community Hall with people affected by evictions, Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha vowed that he will hand a draft moratorium to stop farm evictions to both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. A moratorium is drafted by Tshintsha Amakhaya partners and constituencies as part of their campaign entitled #NoToEvictions spurred by the announcement that over 20 000 people are threatened by farm evictions in the Western Cape with Drakenstein Municipality having a caseload of 1,127 pending eviction matters. The campaign calls on President Ramaphosa to honuor his promise made in Paarl in 2014 following massive workers strike that there will be a moratorium as an immediate ban on all farm evictions.
With a moratorium failing to effect, we have drafted a moratorium awaiting their signatures:


I, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in my capacity as the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, having regard for

1. The thousands of illegal evictions of farm workers and other farm dwellers that continue unabated[1] across the country despite the clear protections contained in the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 (‘ESTA’) that a farm worker and persons living in the same dwelling as the worker may only be evicted:

1. in terms of an order of court
2. once the court is satisfied that the eviction would be just and equitable
3. and once the Land Claims Court has confirmed the order;

2. The great hardship, conflict and social instability caused by such evictions[2] on a group of people already rendered vulnerable through their insecure tenure;

• The disproportionate impact of these illegal evictions on women, in the context of a commercial agricultural system that continues to confine women to an auxiliary labour category increasing their vulnerability to labour-related evictions;

1. The total system failure to protect the rights and security of farmworkers and dwellers due to poor enforcement and resource endowment of ESTA;[3]
2. The continued failure of municipalities to provide adequate alternative shelter as legislatively prescribed;
3. The Constitutional imperative, in section 25(6), to ensure that person whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices, like farm workers and other farm dwellers, are provided with either legally secure tenure or comparable redress.
Hereby declare:

1. A moratorium on any eviction of a farm worker or other farm dweller in the absence of an order of the Land Claims Court in terms of s19(3) of ESTA confirming an order granted by a court of first instance;

2. Such moratorium will be in place until such time as:

1. Parliament provides clear guidance on its appropriation of moneys for the purpose of granting subsidies in terms of section 4 of ESTA and to the Minister, on how to utilise those subsidies;
2. A dedicated budget with ring-fenced resources for ESTA implementation is authorised;
3. A national register of existing farm dwellers is in place;
4. A review of existing legal assistance to farm dwellers is completed and measures to improve this system are put in place;
5. Measures for strengthening the relative rights of farm workers and dwellers are enacted.
3. On an on-going basis, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, with the support from other spheres of government and civil society, will provide training to the South African Police Services, prosecutors, magistrates, farm dwellers and farm owners on ESTA.

Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
Cyril Ramaphosa

[1] Parliament of South Africa (2017) Report of the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change; South African Human Rights Commission (2008) Progress made in terms of Land Tenure Security, Safety and Labour Relations in Farming Communities since 2003; South African Human Rights Commission (2003) National Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in Farming Communities.

[2] Department of Land Affairs 1997.

[3] See Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (2013) Land Tenure policy for commercial farming areas; Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (2013) Strengthening the relative rights of people working the land; Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (2014) Final proposals on strengthening the relative rights of people working the land.