Stellenbosch landowners' interdict application against occupiers postponed

A Stellenbosch property trust will have to wait another week for further direction on how to handle the illegal occupation of a portion of their land by a group who have renamed it "Azania".

The application for an interdict by the owners of Watergang, near the family's Louiesenhof winery, was postponed to September 6 in a quick hearing in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

READ: Stellenbosch land owner gets eviction order after 'land invasion'

Further assessment of the circumstances of those living there is now being conducted.

The last postponement was on August 21, because advocate Ayanda Gladile had been appointed after residents of the shacks in question collected money for a legal fightback, and he needed time to prepare.

Judge Robert Henney granted the postponement with costs to stand over, while a group of about 100 people sang outside the court from early in the morning.

Speaking on the side-lines of the application, Gladile told News24 that so far about 40% of the residents living in about 900 shacks had been interviewed to establish their individual socio-economic needs for the purposes of opposing the eviction.

The interdict application was brought by Wynand Stephanus Smit, Pieter Steenkamp, Manie Malan and Esme Smit in their capacities as trustees of the WS Smit Watergang Trust, following alleged illegal occupations which began in May.

It was against "any and all unknown persons attempting to occupy farm 183, portion 5, Stellenbosch, (also known as Watergang); the sheriff of the district of Stellenbosch and the Station Commander of the SA Police Services, Stellenbosch".

The land forms part of the Koopmanskloof Farm.

A first interdict to remove them was issued in May, and then a second in August.

Basic services to be supplied

The owners and people living on the land now have an agreement that, until the latest interdict application to remove everybody is finalised, no more shacks will be built.

The Stellenbosch municipality has also agreed to supply basic services such as water, and has indicated that it is doing upgrades in Kayamandi, a suburb in Stellenbosch where many of the new occupants came from.

READ: 'Please don't destroy what we're trying to build' - Stellenbosch municipality manager begs protesters

Gladile said outside court that so far the team conducting the information gathering had established that the shacks were occupied by a minimum of four people each, with some shacks accommodating up to seven people.

They were primarily former backyarders of Kayamandi who had said previously that they could not afford rent.

The legal teams are also planning a meeting with Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe on September 7 to set timelines for the eventual hearing of the application.

The municipality has also briefed legal counsel. 

After a few spirited songs outside the court following the postponement, the group went back home again.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter