Security farm workers project additional information
The Project was established in October 1998 to protect and promote the rights of rural dwellers directly threatened with eviction. In addition to defending farm workers facing possible eviction, the Project promotes and advocates for the tenure security rights of farm workers through the facilitation of training workshops, the bi-annual publication of Die Okkupeerder newsletters and other networking activities.
Some years ago, the Project was instrumental for the precedent-setting case of Conradie v Hanekom which recognised a female spouse’s right to family life thereby suspending eviction of her husband.
Today, the existence of the Project remains essential, especially since there is a shortage of legal service providers available to these rural based communities. The Project further enforces the rights of occupiers as protected in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997 (hereinafter referred to as ESTA ) in relation to electricity services, access to water, right to family (especially where children of an occupier face eviction) and other socioeconomic rights as protected in terms of the Constitution and as legislated.
Evictions have a devastating effect on the livelihood of the occupier, especially in light of the backlog with the provision of housing in the Western Cape. The Western Cape has an estimated housing backlog of 310 000 families still awaiting homes which stands to increase if eviction of occupiers progresses. Besides the impact that this will have for the province, if occupiers’ rights are not enforced in terms of ESTA, these occupiers, farm workers and rural dwellers face a bleak future with the reality of being homeless. According to the MEC for Housing, with the current trend of migration and the limited budget of the department, the housing backlog is expected to increase to 460 000 families awaiting homes by 2010.
By representing occupiers in pending evictions cases, we aim to facilitate access to justice and ensure that justice prevails for these marginalized and poor communities. Some cases have even resulted in settlement agreements to the benefit of occupiers. Examples of these settlement agreements include: extended stay for occupiers on farms, suspension of the eviction until an occupier has relocated to a new home with the assistance of the Project, negotiations for informal dwellings such as wendy houses at the cost of the farm owner, dismissal of the eviction in light of outstanding wages, annual leave pay still due and/or non compliance with other provisions of ESTA.
In addition to engaging in litigation, the Project undertakes a number of other activities which include: training of farm workers, networking, information dissemination and telephonic advice. From the time of its establishment, the Project has assisted over 3 000 people threatened with evictions.
The Project has further extended its services to the Northern Cape with the opening of an office in Upington during the course of April 2004.
By extending our services we hope to reach as many rural based communities as possible and thereby enforce their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights.
The Security of Farm Workers Project aims to assist rural indigent farm workers and dwellers/occupiers in the Western Cape to enforce their rights in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure of Act of 62 of 1997 by providing the capacity for activist legal intervention thereby giving effect to these persons’ constitutional rights.
Project Activities include:
Skilled legal telephonic advice service in the area of tenure of security and evictions;
Selection of test cases, development of legal arguments and undertaking of litigation on behalf of farm workers who have been evicted or who are threatened with eviction;
Gathering and dissemination to the various role players the latest legal information from the Land Claims Court and other sources relating to the enforcement of tenure, security and evictions;
Establishment of a national resource base of legal precedents and opinions on matters relating to land tenure, security and evictions;
Establishment of a network of role players;
- Training provision upon request to advice offices and other stakeholders in the field.