Photos taken six months apart show how land grabs have engulfed parts of Stefan Smit’s farm, as Stellenbosch enters another land dispute.
Aerial pictures of Stefan Smit’s private vineyards – and the squatter camp that has encroached on his land – have revealed how the land grabs in Stellenbosch are unfolding. The 62-year-old spoke to the New York Times about the situation, as the Cape Winelands becomes a reluctant battleground over land-ownership.
Last year, we saw another very high-profile case unfold in the heart of the province’s wine-making country. The owners of Louiesenhof Wines were granted an interdict by the Western Cape High Court to remove unoccupied structures and to prevent any additional people from setting up on a piece of vacant land owned by the estate.
The occupation on Watergang started in August. The court order prevented the landowners from dismantling any occupied shacks, however. Around 100 structures went up in total. Now, it seems Smit is at war with an informal settlement just beyond the boundaries of Kayamandi.
Land grabs in Stellenbosch
His Stellenbosch vineyard backs on to the township. Over the course of a few months, a settlement bordering Smit’s territory was established. Although he managed to get it dismantled by the Red Ants, the squatters were undeterred and built shacks on the fields once more.
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Although Stefan won a court battle to get the residents to clear off, that decision is still being appealed. Therefore, the settlement remains right on his doorstep. His modest wine farm has suffered as a result, and he’s revealed how tensions reached an all-time high:
“I, personally, can’t breathe here. They are bringing people down here like fodder. I have never spoken to the people myself, not directly. You don’t do that. It’s not un-dangerous. It’s not advisable. I have received threats before, where they said they would burn me alive.” – Stefan Smit
Who does the land belong to?
Mr Smit told the publication about some of his beliefs on the land reform and the current situation the community faces. He said that land isn’t an automatic right for black citizens, but those of Khoisan heritage are absolutely entitled to it. The group are seen as the first ethnicity to be dispossessed of their land back in 1652.
He also believes that these shacks are being erected due to the flow of migrants from the Eastern Cape. Not only does Smit say think they’re coming to find work, but he suspects they have arrived to create a “voting bloc” of people who will vote against the DA’s provincial government in the upcoming 2019 Elections.
Aerial photos of how Stellenbosch farmers are losing land to squatters
This news release does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SA-news.
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