Evicted Paarl farm family moved to emergency housing

The Marthinus family lived in a library for a month after being evicted from the farm where they had lived for 20 years

By Marecia Damons

18 January 2024

Jan Marthinus, his wife Liezel and their son Jemell have been provided with emergency housing in Paarl. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Farm worker Jan Marthinus and his family, who were evicted in November from the farm where they had lived for 20 years, have been provided with emergency housing in Paarl after a month in a library.

The family were evicted from Ongegund Farm in Paarl in November and their belongings were dumped by the side of the R45 between Malmesbury and Paarl.

The court eviction order did not instruct the Drakenstein Municipality to provide the family with alternative accommodation. But the municipality found them temporary accommodation at the Groenheuwel Library “on humanitarian grounds”. Marthinus, his wife and their 17-year-old son lived there for a month.

Liezel Marthinus said the library was comfortable enough, with a kitchen to prepare meals and access to a toilet and basin. “It was also very safe.”

Seraj Johaar, Drakenstein Municipality’s executive director for corporate services and planning services, said while the Marthinus family were staying at the library, housing intended for another family in the municipality’s Schoongezicht Emergency Housing Site was not taken up and the housing was offered to the Marthinus household.

Johaar said Schoongezicht was developed in the last quarter of 2023 as emergency housing. It is home to over 300 households.

At Schoongezicht, the Marthinus family has access to outside toilets and a standpipe. Refuse is collected weekly. They have made friends with some of their neighbours. “It’s much better here than on the farm,” said Marthinus.

The part of Schoongezicht where the Marthinus family are living is to get electricity by March or April this year. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

But the housing has no electricity. The family uses a gas stove to prepare meals and candles at night for light. They store their meat in the fridge of a relative who lives 15 minutes away. Marthinus charges his phone at a friend’s RDP house nearby.

Johaar said electricity was being brought to Schoongezicht incrementally and this part of the site would have electricity by March or April.

A Stellenbosch couple, who asked not to be named, collected the family’s broken cupboard from the R45 where it had been dumped and fixed it. They delivered it to the family just before Christmas, with new crockery, bedding and a coffee table. “They also gave us cups and R150. I used that money to buy beef stew, chops, sausage, carpet for the floor and cooldrink for us,” said Marthinus.