Small reprieve as Stellenbosch eviction case postponed

As Parliament heard further submissions on land expropriation on Thursday, the Western Cape High Court gave a small reprieve to a group of alleged illegal occupants of privately-owned land in Stellenbosch.

This, after the court postponed the case for more than a month, which means that any order for their eviction from the land, now renamed Azania, won't be made just yet.

The parties agreed to the postponement and to a timeline, which sets out when lawyers representing the land owners, the Stellenbosch municipality, the police, and the alleged illegal occupiers should hand in their papers ahead of the hearing of the eviction application.

The land owners' advocate Lawrie Wilken told Cape Judge President John Hlophe that all parties agreed to the order

Hlophe made the agreement an order of court and the application was postponed to October 25.

'We are going nowhere'

In the meantime, a group of demonstrators who were opposed to the eviction sang outside the court in support of their advocate Ayanda Gladile. They had to raise money to hire Gladile to represent them.

"We are going nowhere," one of their leaders, Midas Wanana, told the group as they stood in the cold outside the court building.

"We remain in Azania. We will just follow the court process," he said through a megaphone.

A few police officers monitored the scene, and the group set off back through the Cape Town CBD towards their transport home. They held banners, sang songs and chanted.

Occasionally, the chants vacillated between "Kiss the Boer" and "Kill the Boer".

The four applicants - Wynand Smith, Pieter Steenkamp, Manie Malan and Esme Smit - applied for the eviction order in their capacities as the trustees of the WS Smit Watergang Trust after people started building shacks on a piece of land the trust owned.

The alleged attempted illegal occupation gained attention in May during an impasse over a temporary relocation camp planned by the Stellenbosch Municipality, which wanted to move blocks of residents of Kayamandi to allow upgrades in the area.

Promised upgrades

A group of people, who described themselves as backyarders from Kayamandi, said they were afraid that if they moved to the temporary camps for promised upgrades, they would never be allowed to move back to Kayamandi.

They also felt the municipality could spend its money better by buying them land where they could build, instead of providing temporary housing. They complained that they could not afford the rent they had to pay in Kayamandi.

Watergang is a portion of land that is next to the Louiesenhof wine estate, which is also associated with the family. The winery's website says it was founded in 1701.

At the beginning of August, a group of people started building shacks and resisted removal

Since then, a truce over their removal has been called, pending the outcome of the land owners' eviction application.

In terms of an agreement facilitated by the SA Human Rights Commission, no more shacks should be built on the land.

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