Stories

Land hearings concluded. Farm dwellers’ plight listened to?

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“They say the land belongs to those who work it. That’s not true. If your husband dies, they (farmers) shift you off the farm. They shift you to a shack… an RDP (house)… But there’s boere that own 13, 14 farms… That’s why I support expropriation without compensation with all my heart,” narrated Bettie Fortuin from the Doorns making her oral submission at the last of the land hearings on the constitutional amendment of Section 25.

After 36 weeks, 32 public hearings and meetings, Parliamentary Review Committee wrapped up its final hearings in Cape Town this past Saturday, 4 August, with a number of orators speaking about the plight of farm workers and dwellers threatened with farm evictions to the Committee and 2000 participants that flooded the Friends of God Church in Goodwood.

Bettie Fortuin explained how women on farms are ‘kicked off’ the land and sent to live in informal settlements “after a lifetime of struggling”. She said, “I support this expropriation because farm workers who build up the farms of the whites so that their children can inherit it, also need something to leave our kids with when we die. Because all we are left with is a shack.”

Fortuin travelled over two hours by taxi from her farm workers’ community outside the Doorns to make it in time for the hearings with a hope to make an oral submission.

Having started as a seasonal farm worker at the age of 13, Fortuin is now 57 years old. Thus far, she had numerously been a victim of farm evictions. With 44 years of hard labour, she has nothing to show but an ‘RDP house’. On Saturday, she shared her plight with the Committee. She further called for farm workers to own the land, end to evictions and corrupt equity schemes.

Fortuin’s personal experience underscored an earlier submission made by Mercia Andrews, a Director at Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE). In her submission, Andrews said: “In the last period, over two million farm dweller have been evicted from the farms. Mostly, they have been evicted illegally. We haven’t seen one white farmer getting charged for illegal eviction. Instead, we have seen DA – Democratic Alliance – municipalities, in farms, preparing for more evictions. I am part of the movement that says, ‘we want a moratorium in this city’.”

Both Andrews and Fortuin were echoing a call made earlier at a picket outside the venue before hearings commenced. About 250 farm workers and dwellers were picketing on Vasco Boulevard calling the President – Cyril Ramphosa – to honour 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.

This picket was spurred by an announcement that about 20 000 people are threatened with farm evictions in the Western Cape. Drakenstein Municipality, alone, has about 1,127 pending eviction matters. Participants argued that this round of evictions, happening at a large scale, is very linked to the talks about expropriation without compensation.

The committee will return to parliament, to begin with, the procession of public submissions. Once the process had been concluded, the multi-party committee will deliberate extensively on this matter before it reports to both Houses of Parliament.

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Sobantu Mzwakali writes for Tshintsha Amakhaya

[MEDIA INVITE] #NoToEvictions Picket

 

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Date: Thursday, 02 August 2018
To: All Media
Attention: News Editors/Land Reporters

For Immediate Use

More than 20,000 people are threatened by farm evictions in the Western Cape. Farm dwellers will picket outside the final public hearings to be held in Cape Town to call on President Ramaphosa to keep a promise he made in Paarl in 2014: that there will be a moratorium, an immediate ban on legal and illegal farm evictions.

Continue reading “[MEDIA INVITE] #NoToEvictions Picket”

A moratorium to stop farm evictions

Banner ImageAt 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:
Continue reading “A moratorium to stop farm evictions”

Report: Land Expropriation Dialogue

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This report speaks to a dialogue held from the 10th to 11th of May at Stay City Hotel hosted by Tshintsha Amakhya partners and local constituencies to discuss the National Assembly resolution to investigate whether a constitutional amendment should be considered to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation and, prepare participants for the coming constitutional review processes.

Continue reading “Report: Land Expropriation Dialogue”

Tshintsha Amakahaya supports Xolobeni to protect their land rights and mineral

 

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Tshintsha Amakhaya supports Xolobeni community of the Wild Coast in their continuous battle to protect their land rights and minerals.

Xolobeni community will be at the Tshwane High Court next week in opposition to Australia’s Mineral Commodities Limited (MRC), who insist on overcoming local resistance to their plan to mine the dunes for titanium.

Under the leadership of Amadiba Crisis Committee, the Xolobeni community has opposed the mining investors for over a decade. This resistance has escalated to great tension with instances of threats and violence against activists. This tension is highlighted by shots that were fired into the home of a member of the Amadiba Crisis Committee soon after a protest against the proposed mine, including the assassination of Sikhoziphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe – a chairperson of the Committee – in 2016.

As Tshintsha Amakhaya, we understand the violence they face could have been avoided if the Mineral Commodities Limited had sought, through adequate consultation and engagement, to obtain free and informed consent of this community prior to pursuing mining on their land as expressed in FPIC. Secondly, after consultation, they should still be offered an opportunity to say #NoToMining and pursue their choice of land use with regards to development.

The fact that their predicament has not received ample attention despite their struggle over a decade highlights the need for just negotiations and a right to say #NoToMining, the negative social and economic impacts that mining brings when dispossessing communities of their land, and the inadequacy of South African government’s interest to pursue alternative development in the instance that communities reject a destructive mining.

As Tshintsha Amakhaya, we have learned from this resistance of over a decade that the right to consent should be given a meaning for communities, using Xolobeni as a case – as the plight of the community has been chiefly overlooked. What transpires in Xolobeni validates how the right to consent cannot be examined superficially, as this obscures injustices taking place in communities and take away a right to say NO. Ordinary rural citizens have a right to security of tenure, as enshrined within the Constitution.

Their struggle to defend their land rights echoes that of many women and men in other rural parts of South Africa who are fighting the same course.

We support grassroots community driven resistance, because it is the experiences and interests of ordinary citizens that should inform laws and policies for development.

#Right2SayNO

For more information, contact Sobantu Mzwakali, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at Tshintsha Amakhaya.

Email: mzwakali@spp.org.za

Tel: 021 447 5096