Too Late For The Provision Of Legal Services To The Farm Dwellers
Our globally recognised constitution contains the clause “….all South African citizens are equal before the law ….” . However, there are some who remain unequal, whom the legal service sees fit to ignore. These are the farm dwellers.
Despite the end of Apartheid, provision of legal services to farm dwellers remains very poor.
Existing legislation is meant to prevent evictions, denial of burial and other human rights violation on farms. Despite the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 and Land Reform (Labour Tenant) Act 3 1996 these are still commonplace.
Evictions are distressing and farm dwellers are often simply dumped, without accommodation: Mr. Mbatha — Vryheid was dumped in Vryheid park, Mrs Nkosi — Dannhauser was dumped next to the local road (surprisingly her case was not tried, but a judgement granted against her). Presently the Nzima family — Utrecht faces an eviction order. Our legal system is not working for the farm dwellers. Since the legislations is meant to regulate evictions (not prevent them), we are seeing more evictions. Farm dwellers rarely win legal battles against white farmers. Is this discrimination? Is our legal system flawed?
Farmers often deny burial for the farm dwellers despite the KwaZulu Natal Cemeteries & Crematoria Amendment Act 2 of 2005. The denials are based on untested hygiene implications and disputed family relationships — “Who is my family member?”.
Even law enforcement agencies sometimes prevent burials rather than upholding the law. Magistrates issue eviction orders and judgements against farm dwellers in unfair trials (court proceedings are often in Afrikaans).
The Department of Land Affairs and the SAPS must protect farm dwellers otherwise evictions and burial denial will be the‘daily bread’ of this vulnerable sector of our community.
Many farm dwellers feel that it is too late for government to provide legal services to them. They have been waiting such a long time and no-one has heard their call.