Farmer begs City for help

The City is looking to remove rubble and cattle from the Wallacedene farm.

A Wallacedene farmer, whose small-holding is occupied by hundreds of squatters, has accused the City of Cape Town of “stabbing him in the back” and trying to squirm out of a deal to lease him the land.

The City wants him to remove livestock and squatters from the farm, saying they pose a growing environmental health risk, but he say he can’t without help the City seems unable or unwilling to provide.

Wayne Isaacs says he has a 50-year-lease on the 5-hectare Phase 9 Farm. He produced a 2005 letter, on what appears to be a City of Cape Town letterhead, signed in 2005 by the then Kraaifontein ward councillor.

Mr Isaacs said it had taken him three years to get the municipality to agree to rent him the farm. He had originally paid R300 a hectare but would not disclose what he is paying now.

“I fenced up the area and slowly started building my house there. I built the farm from the ground up. They told me I am responsible for any infrastructure on the property, there was no water and electricity there,” he said.

In June 2017, City officials told him he needed to get rid of the livestock and rubble on the farm. He asked the City to find somewhere for the animals to go. There are more than 500 on the farm, including pigs, goats and cows.

The squatters, he said, had moved on to the land about two years ago.

“To have all these people removed from the area would be a challenge for me, it could end up violent and this is something I do not want,” he said.

He had asked the City many times to remove the shacks without success, he said.

“I don’t want petrol bombs thrown at me. I want to live peacefully and follow legal routes,” he said.

“The City never comes back to me, and I don’t know where I stand with them. They cannot tell me where my animals can go, and they never came to remove the squatters.”

He had considered leaving the farm, he said, but was reluctant to do so because of all the time, money and effort he had ploughed into it over the years.

Northern News learned about the farm at last month’s Sub-council 2 meeting, when councillors accused City officials of dragging their feet on sorting out health risks and squatting at the farm.The City’s recreation and parks director, John Little, said his department and the farmer had met several times, the last time being on November 19.

The City, he said, needed urgent legal advice on getting a court order to remove the animals and the overcrowded shacks.

“Our department of solid waste has, on many occasions, sent in their bulldozers to clean up the property, and the most recent finding is that more than 1 000 people are squatting on the property. This situation has become tense and complex,” he said.

Mr Little said the plan was to remove the animals, then the manure, after which the squatters could be evicted and trees planted. But the problem was that there was nowhere for the animals to go and alternative space would need to found for the squatters.

“None of the City’s by-laws makes provision for removing the animals. The animal by-laws that we have, speaks for cats and dogs. This is why we need to get legal advice on this,” he said.

“We cannot afford to have the animals on that property; we are trying many channels to have them removed.”

A court would not grant an eviction order for the squatters if alternative space wasn’t found for them, he said.

Councillor Cosmos Mabona accused the City of “dragging their heels”.

He added: “You are waiting for an accident to happen. How do you think you will be able to remove those homeless people now? This is going to cause big trouble that will affect the whole community.”

Mr Little interrupted. “Those people have rights, and those rights need to be considered; we are not dragging our feet.”

Environmental health official Reinhardt Avenant said families were squatting close to the pigs and were at risk of diarrhoea and other illnesses.

The City wanted the livestock and squatters gone by March next year so the land could be rehabilitated, he said.

Mr Little said: “We do not have alternative places for the squatters. This is why we are seeking legal advice. Only until then can the removal of animals and manure begin.”

The City’s media office did not respond to follow-up questions before the paper went to print.

Cn rk farm 1- overcrowding of shacks on the farm.

Cn rk farm 2- Cows grazing on the farm.