Trichardtsfontein residents live in suspense over relocation

Contactors work in front of one of the families’ yards. The family struggles with the dust while they wait for a relocation agreement to be reached.

Trichardtsfontein residents live in fear of being moved to a place that might not be convenient for them and their livestock.

They are aware of negotiations taking place between their human rights lawyers and the people who bought the land, but the waiting is keeping them in suspense.

“We are worried because they have already begun to excavate the new shopping mall in front of our gates and at the back of our yards.

“Our livestock used to return to our yards at sunset, but we now have to look for a temporary place for them,” said a resident.

The settlement consists of eight families of who some have lived in the area since 1968.

All families worked for the farm owner at the time.

“The first farm owner used to work in Parliament and was very humble.

“Every time he visited the farm, he made sure he spoke with us and even when he sold the land, he informed us.

“He asked whether we wanted to continue living here and told us we would have a new land owner.”

The new owner told them he was not interested in farming, but in property development.

Residents have more than 100 livestock and the land owner cannot find proper land for them.

Challenges

Some of the challenges the residents are now facing, are that dust enters their houses during the construction of the shopping centre and the trenches have become too dangerous for their children when they fetch water from the spring.

Locals were once shown a place to move to near Bethal, but it was not convenient because it was too dry for the livestock and was without water.

They are also worried about the financial expenses involved in relocating to another area.

Another area was identified and was not far from where they currently live, but they refused the offer and said the stands allocated were very small and close to the graveyards.

They also said their livestock will not have enough grazing.

Mr Thom le Roux from Afriplan said there are proposals on the table for them to be moved to a better place, though the issue of the livestock will remain a problem even in the future.

“The more the livestock grow in numbers, the more grazing fields they will need.

“We identified an area for them and stands were already allocated and erected and sewer pipes and toilets were built, but they did not want to accept the offer.

Mr Roux added that should they accept the offer, they will get title deeds to ensure no one can remove them again.

Residents rejected the offer because the allocated stands were too small and grazing will become problem so close to the shopping centre.

“We will soon be told to get rid of our livestock.”

The newspaper contacted the residents’ legal representatives for comment about whether an agreement had been reached, as well as why it took so long to reach an agreement.

The Media and Communications manager of the Lawyers for Human Rights, Ms Carol Mohlala, said they cannot at this stage talk to the media because of the sensitivity of the matter and the interests of their clients.

“However once the case has been resolved or concluded, we will be open to such discussions.”

  AUTHOR
Levhuwani Matumba
Journalist

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