For 7 years, the Matselane family has nurtured and loved a thousand-hectare farm in Vanderbiljpark, south of Johannesburg. Now they are facing eviction by the farm’s new owners who seem to have little interest in agriculture.
A distraught Matselane Chauke and her husband, Malinga, has reached out to Food For Mzansi.
They claim that certain officials in the Gauteng department of economic development, agriculture and rural development are subjecting them to “severe oppression and punishment.”
The officials are allegedly backing the new tenant, Wesley Monyatsi. He is married to Thalita Monyatsi, an accounts administrator at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in North West.
Chauke (38) says she is particularly saddened because Monyatsi, a former clerk at an agricultural enterprise, is not utilising the land for farming purposes.
Monyatsi’s son, Bora, has taken over the farm. “He (Monyatsi) leases half of the farm to white farmers who are using it to plant feed,” claims Chauke.
“The rest of the farm is grazing land, but we are not allowed to graze our cattle. We are confined to a three-hectare camp when we are the original tenants of the farm. We are also the only people who have livestock and who are doing agricultural activity on that farm.”
The story behind the farm eviction
The entanglement between the Chaukes and the Monyatsis happened after Serake Letlojane, the late father of Malinga (35), asked Wesley to be the farm caretaker in 2013.
At the time, the two were friends. However, Letlojane was in a partnership with three others when government first leased the land to them in 2007.
Matselane says Letlojane asked Wesley to represent him in the partnership and to take care of the interests of his child until he reached adulthood.
Letlojane died in 2013. Years later, Wesley allegedly got a court interdict that prevented Matselane from being on the farm.
“He also evicted the rest of the beneficiaries who were part of the project and hijacked the whole project. Now, only his sons are staying on the farm,” says Matselane.
She says Monyatsi and his wife only visit the farm on weekends. As the new tenants, they have also appointed a security guard to prevent the Chauke cattle from grazing outside of their confined camp.
Afasa secretary-general Nakana Masoka has, in the last few months, overseen the Chaukes’ eviction from the Vanderbijlpark farm.
He too claims that the new tenant, Monyatsi, took advantage of the Chaukes because he knew he was more educated than them.
“The Chaukes just knew him as a family friend who used to visit when their father was still alive. Therefore, it was easy for the father to say ‘because you are more educated than us, you will then advise us’.
“Now, this gentleman lives in North West and he is not doing anything on the farm. All he does, is rent the farm out to the white adjacent farmers to plant, harvest and to probably pay him,” says Masoka.
Farmland for government chronies?
Masoka tells Food For Mzansi that Afasa brought the matter to the attention of Terries Ndove, acting director-general of land tenure administration.
“Our expectation was that they would make a call to Gauteng to allow cattle to graze because for me that is the first crisis.
“Their cattle has been closed off in about three hectares and a camp. Every time they take them to the next camp, the fellow tenants come in and chase them out.”
According to Masoka, Afasa raised the matter with government on two levels.
First, they asked government to set up an eviction task team where both parties could be represented. This was done, but calls that the Chaukes cattle were now dying of hunger were allegedly ignored.
Afasa expected Ndove to intervene.
“We were really disappointed, especially since it’s illegal for them to place any advisor of the government on state land. We are aware that most of the evictions in the country happen because officials put their friends or relatives on state farms which is disappointing because the farmers suffer,” he says.
Three months later, neither Ndove nor the Gauteng department of economic development, agriculture and rural development has resolved the matter. “All we want is for him (Ndove) to give instruction to Gauteng to allow for the Chauke cattle to graze,” he says.
- Food For Mzansi has reached out to the following parties for comment: Wesley Monyatsi, Parks Tau, the Gauteng MEC for economic development, agriculture and rural development, and Terries Ndove, acting director-general of land tenure administration. The article will be updated when comment is received from any of the parties. Repeated calls to Ndove have gone unanswered. Monyatsi has apparently changed his cell phone number and could also not be reached by Afasa or the Chaukes.