Family homeless after eviction

The families's belongings scattered next to the road.

STEELPOORT – Nearly 20 people found themselves homeless after being evicted from portion 3 of De Grooteboom Farm just next to Thorncliffe Mine.

The Mmadi clan members’ shacks were destroyed by the Lydenburg and Burgersfort Sheriff on Monday morning. The destruction came after Glencore’s Thorncliffe Mine presented them with a letter of eviction last Friday.

The eviction notice handed by the Sheriff stated: “Herewith note that we received a court order of the eviction of Barry Mmadi and Thandi Mmadi and all those who occupy through or under them from portion 3 of De Grooteboom farm 373. If you don’t leave the farm, you will be forced to vacate it.” The residents alleged the evictions were illegal.

“We’ve got a matter that is pending and is before court. Now we have people who evict us on a pending matter. This land belongs to our forefathers and we have a letter from Kgoshikgolo KK Sekhukhune highlighting that,” said Lazarus Mmadi, one of the occupants.

One of the security officers of the mine, who was part of the destruction, said all legal protocols were followed.

“They were served by the Sheriff with a letter of eviction but chose to ignore it. They were told to vacate the farm about two months ago, but could not do so.” On Monday when Steelburger/Lydenburg News arrived at the farm, residents were gathering their assets.

Christina Mmadi alleged that the Sheriff took their corrugated iron sheets. “They have taken away some of our property and told us they will throw them away. We have lost our belongings, as we were not allowed back onto the farm. We will return to the farm and erect other shacks. This is a war,” they warned.

The residents said the farm was their rightful land. “We have our forefathers’ graves here. This is our land. We will fight for it legally and physically.”

Glencore’s communication officer, Shamiela Letsoalo claimed that the informal dwellings were erected illegally on land for which Glencore has surface rights.

“All the necessary legislative procedures were strictly followed by Glencore, including that the illegal occupants were formally requested to vacate the property on several occasions but refused to do so.

“Pursuant thereto Glencore was granted an urgent interim eviction order by the Polokwane High Court. The occupants were informed of the eviction in advance and were granted a further opportunity to vacate the property, which they failed to do.”

She added, “The Sheriff of the Court evicted the occupants in line with this eviction notice.”

Steelburger/Lydenburg News spoke to the families’ lawyer, Moses Manthata, who said, “We want to appeal the eviction within a period of 14 days. We are concerned on how they were granted an interim eviction order by the court. We will fight the decision”.

Gilbert Motseo

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