State to stand by squatters.

Posted On Tuesday, 21 January 2003 02:00 Published by
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Government is to appeal a court judgment compelling it to evict and provide housing for 40,000 illegal squatters occupying part of a commercial farm in Benoni.

Thoko Didiza

The application for leave to appeal will prolong Abraham Duvenage's two-year struggle to have the squatters removed from 40ha of his 2,300ha farm, Modderklip.

Judge William de Villiers found in November that government had failed to carry out its constitutional duty to protect the owner's property rights and to carry out an eviction order, which the farmer won shortly after the squatters started moving onto his farm in May 2000.

The judge ordered government to present a comprehensive plan in court by February 28 to either evict and rehouse the squatters or to buy the affected portion of the land.

Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza criticised the judgment yesterday, saying it did not take account of the illegal actions of squatters.

Government believed that upholding the court order would encourage 'queue jumping', allowing illegal squatters access to housing ahead of those on housing waiting lists.

The minister also criticised 'shack farming', condemning farmers who did nothing to remove illegal squatters from their farms in a bid to force government to buy their property.

AgriSA, the commercial farmers union that participated in the court proceedings as a friend of the court, said it was 'disappointed' at government's decision to appeal against the judgment.

Annelise Crosby of AgriSA's legal department said the appeal, even if not upheld, would put a stop to the court order.

It is believed that the Ekurhuleni metropolitan council is negotiating to buy the portion of the land that has been occupied.

Last modified on Saturday, 08 March 2014 11:09

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