South Africa: Family Living Along R44 in Paarl Buy a House

The family plans to move to Wellington at the end of July

"We will finally have somewhere safe and warm to sleep," says Elna Brown, who along with nine other relatives has been squatting in tents outside the gates of a wine farm in Paarl for past three months.

Brown and nine other relatives will be moving to a home in Wellington at the end of July.

The family has been living next to the R44 with most of their belongings, including couches, mattresses and a cupboard, with only plastic tent sheeting to cover them. They were evicted from the Windmeul Kelder wine farm on 26 March 2019.

Following a court ruling last month, dismissing the family's bid to have their eviction rescinded, Brown said their move "couldn't have come at a better time".

The family had repeatedly rejected offers by the Drakenstein Municipality to house them at a caravan park in New Orleans, Paarl. The family said that the accommodation was not suitable and overcrowded. The park is home to over 150 evictees, many of whom have been living in tents for over a year.

Last Tuesday, the family attended mediated talks with representatives from Windmeul and the municipality. There, Windmeul agreed to "make a financial contribution to help the family buy their own home," said Windmeul Kelder manager Danie Marais.

On Thursday, Marais told GroundUp that they had "always been willing to negotiate with the family" but that they were "happy with the outcome of the agreement".

When GroundUp visited the family this week, Brown was studying her college course work inside the small blue tent. Zonwabile Alfred May, who previously worked at Windmeul, was washing clothing in a small bucket. They had a small wood fire.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel for us," said Brown. "We are very thankful to Windmeul because we didn't think it would end like this, especially after the court ruling. We made it clear [to Windmeul] that there are no hard feelings. I believe everything happens for a reason. Now we'll have our own place."

"We have really seen it all living here with the wind and the rain. It wasn't easy," said Brown, recalling incidents of flooding and having to secure their belongings during strong winds.

Brown said they are making arrangements for transport from Wellington so the children can continue their schooling in Paarl for the remainder of the term. "It is a relief for us, especially because the kids are still at school and I'm still studying. The house we bought is small but it's a start and much better than this," she said.

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