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HRC wants farm eviction laws tightened to protect farm workers

The commission says it has been dealing with about 500 cases related to these type of evictions since the start of the year in the Western Cape.

One of the families living in Newrest, Wellington after being evicted from a farm. Picture: Monique Mortlock/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Human Rights Commission says laws surrounding farm evictions need to be "tightened" to protect farm workers.

The commission says it has been dealing with about 500 cases related to these type of evictions since the start of the year in the Western Cape.

It has been visiting areas across the province, attempting to give dignity back to former farm workers who have either been evicted from farms, or subjected to what it describes as inhumane practices of farm owners.

Susan Demas (76) describes the day in December 2015 when she was forced to leave a farm in Wellington where she'd lived and worked for more than two decades.

"When we looked again we saw the police and the trucks coming. Our things weren't even packed in because we didn;t know anything but we had to go. Then they just dumped us here."

Demas, along with her husband, children and grandchildren, were among the 23 families who had to leave the farm after ownership changed hands. The new owner provided them with corrugated iron shacks in Newrest informal settlement.

The HRC's regional commissioner Chris Nissen is helping in the family's case, as well as hundreds of similar matters. Nissen says the rural development and land reform department needs to do more to help those affected by farm evictions.

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