Evictions are taking place more and more all over South Africa, especially on farms. Evictions mostly takes place in an illegal manner which is therefore a criminal offense that must be reported to the police. However, the government has no system in place to prevent or document illegal evictions.
What is an illegal eviction order?
An illegal eviction order is when you have not been notified of the eviction by the court. In most eviction process, the correct procedure is also not followed whereby the landowner verbally forces you to leave. The land owner in such cases may also cut off the water and electricity so that occupiers have to leave the land. Also note, that an illegal eviction order is a criminal offense and that you can face consequences for it.
What is the consequence of an eviction order?
Eviction orders often lead to families being separated from each other and ending up on the streets and not getting what they need from the municipality. In most cases there is an increase in unemployment, poor quality emergency housing with limited basic services, occupiers are placed in overcrowded informal settlements with a greater risk to their personal safety
What does the law say about eviction orders?
The Extended Stay Eligibility Act (ESTA) was enacted to prevent illegal evictions on farms. Protections under ESTA include the following:
- No Eviction can take place without fair procedure which includes a court hearing.
- Alternative accommodation must be made available for residents who are evicted.
- Pensioners and medically disabled persons who have worked on a farm for more than 10 years are long-term residents and therefore cannot be evicted.
What should you do if you are facing eviction?
- If the farmer threatens you with eviction, do not leave the farm
- Do not sign any documents until you have received advice.
- If the Sheriff delivers an eviction application; do not leave the farm; seek legal advice
- Insist on free legal advice.
- Appear in court on the date; as indicated in the eviction application.
- Insist that the municipality and the department of rural development are part of the court proceedings.
- Insist on alternative housing.
What are the procedures for evictions.
- The occupier must be notified in writing.
- An application must be made to the court for an eviction order.
- The notice must then be given to every resident over the age of 18.
- The notice must also be served on the municipality and the department of rural development and land reform.
- The hearing will take place two months after receiving the court application.
- You must be given the opportunity to present your case in court.
- You have access to free legal aid.
- he municipality must provide alternative housing before a court order is granted.
What should you do in case of illegal eviction or if you receive a notice?
- Get legal help immediately.
- Contact the Department of Rural Development.
- Go to your nearest police station for help.
- Approach the media.
If you are faced with an illegal eviction in the Western Cape, please visit the Rural Legal Centre at 25 Le Roux Street, Robertson