17 June 2019

South Africa: Bitter Harvest - Farm Evictions Sow the Seeds of Discontent


Farmworkers and farm dwellers continue to face legal evictions in a country desperately trying to stabilise its economy - and their patience is wearing thin.

Sophia Maqubela, 35, gathers wood every day between the rows of crops that grow around her house. She keeps an eye out for snakes and once she's gathered as much as she can carry she stores it outside her front door. The electricity to the house was cut off by the landowner a few months ago and the only way to heat bathwater, or make a hot meal for the children, is to burn sticks and logs on an old wood stove in the kitchen.

Maqubela lives with her sister, Shireen, and their children on Bestwyk Farm in Prince Alfred's Hamlet near Ceres in the Western Cape.

Sophia and Shireen's father died in August 2017; he worked on the farm for 46 years as a mechanic, builder and driver. Their mother died six months after that; she used to work as a domestic worker for the farmowner, Johan van Wyk. After the deaths of their parents, Van Wyk has told Sophia and Shireen they must leave the house.

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