After a week of protest and drama, Windmeul Kelder has issued a statement explaining the eviction of illegal occupiers did not occur abruptly, but was a culmination of a decade long breakdown of relationship and inappropriate conduct by occupiers.
A two year long court battle that ended up in the Randburg Land Claims Court reached boiling point this week when a farm labourer family was evicted from Windmeul wine farm in the Paarl and Wellington area.
While the May family of 11 is challenging eviction from the house they have lived in for 38 years, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has thrown out an appeal by a property developer against the removal of two other families.
On Thursday, 28 March, lobby groups and activities, including Women on Farms Project (WFP) and the Rural and Farmworkers Development Organisation (RFDO) supported the family’s demonstration at the gates of Windmeul Kelder.
IOL and Independent Media approached the offices of Windmeul Kelder for comment, but apparently didn’t receive a statement by deadline.
An official statement issued by Windmeul Kelder (Pty) Ltd states that none of the persons evicted were farm workers and none were employed by Windmeul.
“Only one person, Mr Alfred May, was previously employed by Windmeul, but his employment was duly and legally terminated, as early as November 2008, within the context of the Labour Relations Act, after he was found guilty of illegally selling liquor on the property. Subsequent to termination of his employment he was requested to vacate the premises, but he refused,” the statement said.
Windmeul emphasised that it has at all times followed applicable court rules and legislation and acted within its rights, while simultaneously respecting the rights of the illegal occupiers, in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
“The eviction of the occupiers did not occur abruptly but rather was the culmination of a nearly decade long process at a large financial cost and prejudice by Windmeul. Windmeul is cognisant and sympathises with the hardships currently experienced by the occupiers and this is regrettable, but this was considered by the court, agreed to between the parties and the court issued an order by agreement.”
The institution and prosecution of these proceedings was occasioned by a material and irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between Windmeul and the occupiers. According to the statement, the occupiers’ conduct, in brief, includes “destruction of property, overcrowding and the illegal use and sale of narcotics and alcohol, including the sale of these substances by the occupiers to minor children, which forced Windmeul to bring such eviction proceedings.”
The full statement can be found here