When eight-year-old Jessica Jordaan returned home from De Villiers Primary on Monday afternoon, a pile of bricks lay in place of the house where she had lived all her life.
Jessica’s mother Christolene and her aunt Poppie Jafta, carrying one-year-old Dirkie on her hip, stood guard over the family’s possessions. These had been dumped outside the gates of Wonderfontein Wineries.
Last night the family of five slept “among the bushes”.
But farm manager Henk van Niekerk has lashed out at the family, saying that their own stubbornness is to blame for their homelessness. He and the farm’s attorney, Hannes du Bois, assured GroundUp that the family were offered alternative accommodation long before the court application for an eviction was started. The eviction process followed the letter of the law, said Du Bois.
“The family had no right to be there in the first place,” he said.
“I know what it looks like. People see a photo of furniture standing in the open and their empathy is immediately with the evictees. But, in this case, procedure was followed. The court ruled that the family did not have a right to the property. The ruling was confirmed by the Land Claims Court and an eviction order was granted. The family took poor advice from the Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union [Csaawu] and decided to resist instead of accepting the alternative accommodation or to relocate themselves.”
Alternative housing offered
Du Bois sent GroundUp correspondence with the family, from June 2013, in which alternative housing was offered. Furthermore, Du Bois and Van Niekerk claim that the current occupants only moved into the house last year after their father, Dirk Mastrick, who had worked on the farm since 1983, died. They had never worked there, and had no claim to the land, he said.
“These are lies!” exclaimed Christolene Jordaan. “I have lived here my whole life. I was born on this farm. My child was born here too. Now we have nothing.”
Christolene (25) and her brother Izak (32) also denied any knowledge of an offer for alternative accommodation. Whatever the case, the reality is that two children – one aged eight, the other aged one – spent the night outside.
No emergency housing has been made available by the Langeberg municipality, which suffers from a perpetual housing backlog.
GroundUp could not source comment from the municipality at the time of publication.
This article was originally published on GroundUp, a community journalism project.