The Mahikeng High Court has ordered that the minister of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development can evict 21 farmers of North West who occupied 10 government farms worth over R50 million.

Minister Thoko Didiza of the North West approached the court after the farmers occupied the land which she had intended to lease to emerging farmers.

The government purchased the farms from farmers and land was to be distributed to emerging farmers in August 2019.

On one of the farms, purchased for R24.1 million, five people with cattle allegedly invaded the farm and locked the gates. On another farm, purchased for R25 million, and with irrigation equipment worth R2.5 million, six people with cattle occupied the farm illegally.

On yet another farm with MTN infrastructure, the government was also prevented access and MTN could not maintain the cellphone tower, the minister said.

Despite ordering the farmers to evacuate the farms, Judge Samkelo Gura said it was untrue that the farmers invaded the farms. He said the occupants were given permission or had negotiated with former owners to utilise the farms. He said it is not in any way a story of an invasion and unlawful occupation, as the minister made out to this court.

Gura ordered the farmers to remove their livestock within two weeks from the date of the order. If they don’t, the sheriff, with the assistance of the police, is authorised to attach, remove and deliver the livestock to the nearest animal pound within five days from the expiry of the order to remove livestock.

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