The Legal Resources Centre opposes ESTA farm eviction in court


10 June 2024

On 7 June 2024 the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) appeared in the Tsolo Magistrate’s Court to defend the eviction of long-term Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) occupier Lulama Kapa from a farm he has resided and farmed on for 34 years.

Mr Kapa first came to reside on the farm in Tsolo, Eastern Cape, as a farmworker in 1989, and thereafter remained on the farm with the consent of the private landowner and thereafter the State. In the early 2000s the Department of Rural Development advised Mr Kapa that the farm belonged to the State and gave him permission to continue residing there. Mr Kapa approached the Department on the possibility of further strengthening his tenure, either through taking ownership, being appointed caretaker, or being granted a lease. The Department supported his application to lease and agreed that he could continue to reside on the farm.

In the year 2019, Mr Kapa was told that the State had made an error and that the land actually belonged to a private person. It appears that the farm was sold by the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency to a private person in 2002, despite Mr Kapa being in occupation of the Farm at the time.

The Department made an offer initially to purchase the farm from the private landowner in favour of Mr Kapa, but this offer was rejected. The LRC has since been assisting Mr Kapa to make an application in terms of section 4 of ESTA. Section 4 allows for the Department to pursue off-site development and acquire alternative land for ESTA occupiers by making use of a tenure grant. This provision has largely remained unutilised since the Act came into force, but is capable of being a valuable avenue for the redistribution of land and securing tenure for ESTA occupiers, who remain a vulnerable group.

Despite this process being underway, the private landowner has instituted eviction proceedings against Mr Kapa and his family from the farm. The LRC has defended the eviction on the basis that Mr Kapa has legal protection in terms of ESTA as he has occupied the farm for over 10 years and is over the age of 65 years; no probation report has been filed by the Department as required by ESTA; and an application for off-site development in terms of ESTA is currently underway.

On 7 June 2024 arguments were heard in relation to the technical points in limine raised by the Applicants. Once a ruling is delivered on the technical aspects, the merits of the eviction application will be heard in the coming weeks.


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