Old Woman Cries out After Being Evicted From a Farmhouse Where she Worked for 51 years

“I can’t afford to buy myself a house or rent. The little I earned as a farmworker, I used to put my children through school,” says Corina Kanah from Simondium near Stellenbosch.

Kanah was speaking to a hall filled with mostly women farmworkers at an event organised by the Women on Farms Project on Tuesday. Representatives from the labour department and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) also attended the event, as well as Alan Winde, the provincial minister of Economic Opportunities.
Many of the workers spoke about not having safety clothing when working with pesticides or of having to relieve themselves in the bushes because there were no toilets in the field. They also called for “a living wage” and for an end to forced evictions of farm dwellers.
At an indaba on farm evictions hosted by the South African Human Rights Commission in April, Drakenstein municipal manager Lauren Waring admitted that the municipality had become “a hotspot for evictions” with 1,127 pending eviction matters at the time. The Commission said then that it would write to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking for a moratorium on farm evictions.
On Tuesday, farm dwellers in Simondium said that about 200 people were currently facing eviction in the area. Kanah is among this group who say they are being forced out of homes they have lived in for decades.
Kanah said she had worked on the farm now known as Marlenique Estate for 51 years before she was retrenched in 1999. She lives in a two bedroom house on the estate with her adult son and a grandchild.
In February she received an eviction notice from the new owners. “We were meant to appear at the council offices a few weeks ago. When the new owners’ lawyers saw all the supporters who went with us and Women on Farms, they cancelled the meeting. I am still waiting to hear from them,” she said.
“I worked and stayed there all those years. Now I have to move out. It’s not right,” she said.
Jacques Botes, also from Simondium, said farm workers’ conditions were “getting worse”. He said many did not have access to drinking water at their homes or only had access to poor quality water.

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