Scores of women have demanded an end to farm evictions during a protest in Klapmuts, Cape Town.
On Thursday, about 65 women picketed outside Anura farm in Klapmuts in a show of solidarity with Fransiena Petersen who was evicted after a two-year legal battle.
“Last night, police tear-gassed protesters outside Paarl police station. Today, the police and farm security used intimidation tactics to scare protesters away,” Oxfam’s Rookia Cornelius told News24 from the scene.
The group, Women on Farms Project (WFP), is fighting for the rights of both Petersen and 62-year-old widow Elizabeth le Roux who were evicted from Goedvertrou farm in Stellenbosch.
Petersen was born on Anura and her three children are still at school. She spent Wednesday night sleeping on the side of the road.
Le Roux has nowhere to go.
“A farm security guy shot his gun in the air during the protest. He was behind the farm fence,” said Cornelius.
Women erected barricades in the road and held signs to protest the evictions.
According to the WFP, 1,000 eviction cases were on the court roll in the Drakenstein Municipality in 2018 alone. When these evictions go into effect, 20,000 people would be evicted, said the organisation.
The WFP added farmers were systematically rezoning their farms and “developing high-end, luxury tourist and residential properties” so that workers could be evicted.
“While we can expect commercial farmers to behave in this fashion, it is inexcusable for the democratic, ANC-led state to collude, enable and effectively act on behalf of such farmers,” it said.
But the women are determined to fight the evictions.
“They are fearless. The more the police, the farm private security, the state come at them, the more determined they are. The heart-breaking thing is seeing elderly women, who were born on these farms, being displaced. But they are marching, standing up for their lives,” said Cornelius.
She added the evicted family would stay on the side of road with their belongings until proper housing was provided. “They’re incredibly vulnerable and exposed there. The boere have armed security. Eish… The WFP will keep at it.”
In his State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted the government’s plan on land redress.”This year, we will implement key recommendations of the presidential advisory panel on land reform and agriculture to accelerate land redistribution, expand agricultural production and transform the industry.”
Ramaphosa said 700,000ha of state land would be released this year for agricultural production.