Illegal evictions continue in agricultural sector

Illegal evictions and rights violations continue to happen in the farming sector, Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulu Xingwana said on Thursday.

“I personally feel that far too many farm workers find themselves facing the scourge of abuse at the hands of some ruthless farmers,” Xingwana told the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) national conference in Randburg, Johannesburg.

She said of the eight million people evicted between 1985 and 2005, 1% of the evictions was legal.

Xingwana said the department had implemented projects to improve tenure security of vulnerable and marginalised communities in order to improve farm workers’ livelihoods and to allow them to enter into the mainstream economy.

However, she said, these projects had only benefited a fraction of farm workers and farm dwellers.

“Some of the failures have not been as a result of the current legislation but the ability of the state to implement it.

“New strategies are being developed, including the establishment of the land rights management facility”.

She said legal representation had always affected and directed the outcome of eviction cases which had always gone against the farm workers and farm dwellers.

“It is important that the state puts in place proper mechanisms to assist those who cannot afford legal representation with such a service.”

Other elements of the Land Rights Management Facility would include a call centre at the department to assist farm workers and dwellers and a communication strategy to raise awareness of land rights.

“I intend to embark on a land rights awareness campaign and also personally visit those areas with high incidents of evictions,” she said.

Xingwana said the provincial road show would start in October 2007. - Sapa


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