Deadline for families facing eviction from Noordhoek land

Landowner Judy Sole offered each family R35,000

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Photo of people outside shack
Berendine Herman (centre) lives has lived in a shack with no toilet, running water, or electricity for seven years. She shares the space with her two kids, boyfriend (left), father, and grandmother (right). Photo: Kristine Liao

Today is the last day for families living on the De Villiers farm in Noordhoek to accept an offer from landowner Judy Sole, who has been attempting to evict them.

After their last meeting on 9 April, Sole sent a letter to the families giving them a 30 April deadline to leave the land. If they do so, she says, she will pay each family R35,000. The families are not willing to accept the offer, as they believe it is not enough to purchase a suitable home.

In the meantime, Sole also asked in the letter for a monthly payment of R850 from each family toward municipal expenses until 16 July, the date which they are scheduled to next meet.

Sole is the owner of the Monkey Valley Beach Nature Resort and head of the Green Party of South Africa. She bought the 1.45 hectares of land for over R3.1 million in 2007, after the previous owner Jacob De Villiers died. She has plans to build a global warming solution centre.

“I haven’t been able to do that because all the houses were meant to be emptied, and then I would have been able to put people in who paid rent,” Sole said. “Basically, they’ve been living there for 13 years without paying rent. Not another person in the country lives like them.”

She told the families in the letter: “You can drag on the case but the lawyer I am about to engage does not let a day pass without instantly taking action. Ultimately, you will lose the case — and from now on, it will cost you a lot.”

Sole said she had to borrow money from Monkey Valley to provide funds for the De Villiers farm land, as there has been no income from that property since she purchased it. She said the financial losses on the farm have also affected her current business and staff.

Berendine Herman, 29, who has lived on the farm since she was born, said she understands the difficulties Sole is facing.

“We really do understand that, but if she wants us to at least help her pay rent, then she must at least give us a reason to pay rent,” Herman said. “What are you expecting, for us to pay for a property that I’m not even living properly on?”

Herman has been living in a shack with no toilet, running water, or electricity for seven years. She shares the space with her two kids, boyfriend, father, and grandmother. Herman said, starting from her great grandmother, generations of her family had all lived and worked on the farm. Her family’s original house on the property had been destroyed after an inspector ruled the conditions unsafe.

Marilyn Morkel, who was also born on the land, lives next to Herman in a household of nine people. Kathi Rehbock, who has lived on the land for 15 years, lives in a house behind Morkel with her boyfriend, his child, two dogs, four cats, and five tortoises.

In the letter, Sole wrote, “Any decision on rezoning or rehousing of the parties would not include Marilyn or Kathy, as I am only prepared to tolerate a house of the sort of size and type Wolle (Herman’s father) lives in now and not with five adults as in Marilyn’s case and certainly not for Kathy for whom there is no humanitarian grounds. She has a brother. Let him be humanitarian.”

Herman said she is relieved that Sole seems to be open to providing her family with a property on the land, but she is nervous for her neighbours, who will most likely have to find somewhere else to stay.

Morkel said although she does not want to move, if Sole gives her the money to do so, she will buy a house in Struisbaai where her mother lives. However, her husband would not move with the family because he works near Noordhoek. Rehbock said she would go to live with her boyfriend in Masiphumelele, but she would not be able to bring her animals as there would be no space for them.

The families said Sole had previously offered to provide them with houses in Bloubergstrand. But since it is far from where they live now, they did not accept the offer.

Herman, Morkel, and Rehbock say they would like to sit down with Sole and speak to her.

“We need to talk to her. We need to sort out our problems. We can’t do that because she’s never here,” Herman said. “She only comes here, gives papers, makes commandments, and then she goes. That is the problem — we’ve never had a connection with Judy.”

Sole did not accept the opportunity to respond to the comments of the De Villiers farm families. Chris Middlebrook, one of the case attorneys, was not reachable as he is on leave.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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