Kei Road family fears eviction after MEC’s husband buys farm

Thembelihle Gxothiwe recently bought Sunnyside farm and according to the family, he wants them off the property. They also say he threatened to bulldoze their home.
Thembelihle Gxothiwe recently bought Sunnyside farm and according to the family, he wants them off the property. They also say he threatened to bulldoze their home.
Image: nito500/ 123rf

A family who have lived on a Kei Road farm for decades is at loggerheads with Thembelihle Gxothiwe, husband of transport, safety & liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe.

Gxothiwe recently bought Sunnyside farm and according to the family, he wants them off the property. They also say he threatened to bulldoze their home.

But Gxothiwe told the Dispatch he only approached the family because, as a landlord, he needed to know who was living on his property.

Gxothiwe bought the farm earlier this year with the intention of farming.

Twelve members of the Moyeni family live in a two-bedroom house on the farm.

Neziswa Moyeni, who has lived most of her life on the farm, told the Dispatch Gxothiwe had also restricted movement of their livestock.

Neziswa said on one of two occasions Gxothiwe had confronted them. Tikana-Gxothiwe was present.

Neziswa said Gxothiwe had threatened to bulldoze their home and this caused her mother, Nonezile, anxiety.

Nonezile said her father had lived and worked on the farm as a tractor driver since the 1960s.

The Dispatch is in possession of a recording in which a voice believed to be that of Gxothiwe is heard speaking to Neziswa and Nonezile this week.

In the recording, Neziswa tells the person: “We are not moving because we don’t have alternative accommodation. We have lived here all our lives.”

The person then tells the family he did not want to see anyone roaming about the farm because he had valuable assets.

Nonezile responds: “Bring us a paper from court that says we must not roam around here”.

 The family recently had their water supply cut off and blamed Gxothiwe.

They have retained the services of lawyer Dumisani Sonamzi to represent them.

Sonamzi said Gxothiwe required a court order to evict or demolish the family’s home.

Sonamzi said the person who previously owned Sunnyside farm had also tried to evict the family.  

“The family has a long history with the farm. At the moment I have not received any papers instructing my clients to respond to an eviction order,” he said.

“We have written to the department (of rural development & land reform),” said Sonamzi.

Farm manager Xolani Zongola told the Dispatch the cut to the water supply had been a technical glitch which had been rectified on Wednesday.

Gxothiwe said the water supply had been restored.

“Water is a basic right, that we know,” said Gxothiwe.

He said he was in contact with the lawyer and department “trying to resolve this, (and discuss) how to find a solution”.

“It's not even my intention to involve the lawyers if we can find an agreement. I was not going to demolish (the Moyeni homestead). I am waiting for a meeting with rural development to try to find an amicable solution,” he said.

Though Gxothiwe assured the Dispatch the Moyeni family would stay on the farm until a meeting had taken place, Nonezile said on Thursday morning two police officers from Kei Road police station came to the house with the intention of arresting her. However, she refused to go with them and they left.

Department spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said their lawyers were not aware the property had a new owner. The department needed to be advised on this change.

It is disappointing to learn that the property has a new owner when we had made a request to the previous owner that they consider selling to the Moyeni family

He said the Moyeni family had been having challenges on the farm since 2003  and there had been several legal disputes over the period.

“It is disappointing to learn that the property has a new owner when we had made a request to the previous owner that they consider selling to the Moyeni family (using Section 4 of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, 62 of 1997 to settle the dispute amicably.

“Now there is a new owner, engagements with the new owner will take place using this Act.”

Police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said officers had gone to the farm to investigate, after a case of trespassing had been opened at Kei Road police station.

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