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Occupying farmers seek to appeal against removal order in North West

30 July 2021 - 12:53 By ernest mabuza
Some of the 21 farmers who were interdicted from residing on government land they occupied from April to July 2019 have indicated their intention to appeal against the court order made by the high court in Mahikeng. Stock photo.
Some of the 21 farmers who were interdicted from residing on government land they occupied from April to July 2019 have indicated their intention to appeal against the court order made by the high court in Mahikeng. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ZYCH

Some of the farmers who were ordered by the high court two weeks ago to leave North West government-owned farms they had occupied since 2019 have indicated they intend to apply for leave to appeal.

This is against a decision by the high court in Mahikeng, which ordered that they leave the 10 farms worth more than R50m.

In a judgment passed on July 12, judge Samkelo Gura also ordered that the farmers remove their livestock within two weeks from the date of the order.

The government had purchased the farms from existing commercial farmers with the aim of redistributing them to qualifying emerging farmers in the province. This was supposed to happen in August 2019. However, the presence of the people who occupied the state farms during 2019 made it impossible for the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development to give undisturbed possession of these farms to the successful beneficiaries.

The occupants alleged they obtained permission to occupy the farms from department officials at a meeting held at one of the farms, a claim denied by the department.  The judge agreed with the department that the meeting did not take place.

One occupier, Tshwarelo Moshe, said: “After considering the judgment and the reasoning, we are of the view that another court might come to a different conclusion. Hence we have given our attorneys instructions to proceed to lodge an appeal in this matter and papers will be filed within the time period allowed.”

He said the farmers were surprised the department denied having had a meeting with them in May 2019 and giving them occupation of the farms.

“It is this denial which the court heavily relied on in reaching its conclusion,” Moshe said.

“I am in the process of obtaining my cellphone records which will show the records of our conversations between myself and [a provincial government official] on the day in question.

“I believe this additional information, if introduced in court, will assist the court in coming to a different conclusion.”

The provincial department did not respond to requests for comment.

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