Mar 28

Francois Smit multi-million luxury estate

Francois Smit is the owner of a multi-million luxury Longlands Estate. In 2008 he promised his farm workers to improve their living conditions on his farm. Instead of developing the housing conditions for his workers, he planned to open his next multi-million development in February 2017. The Women on Farms Project is going to support these women to get their rights for a human rights friendly living instead of getting another million complex in the Stellenbosch surrounding.

In response to a request from farm dwellers on Longlands farm, with whom we have been working, a community meeting was planned for 7 February. One day before the planned meeting we received a letter from Van Wyk Fouchee, lawyers of owner, Francois Smit, threatening "to take further legal steps" against us if we "follow through with the gathering". This illustrates how owners/farmers restrict farm dwellers' rights of association. It is shameful that a wealthy individual like Francois Smit should have such power and control over the lives of "his" poor workers and dwellers.

At the 16.02.2017 is the planned opening day. For this day Francois Smit hired private security and lawyers to try to prevent the community from protesting for the housing he promised in 2008. Nevertheless WFP started a peaceful demonstration. During the day Women on Farms and some community members from Longlands received letters from the lawyer of Francois Smit trying to prevent our right to demonstrate by threatening to interdict us. By 17.00, WFP and their supporters were all back on the picket line.

At the 1.03.2017 WFP went to the high court to adress this problem. The result was that the case was postponed to Friday, 10 March.

A victory for WFP and the Longlands community as Judge Desai suspended the order (interdict) pending a return date! Aluta continua! A big thank you to Sheldon and Wilmien from the LRC. Amandla awethu!

After Francois Smit's interim interdict to prevent the community's right to lawful protest was suspended in the High Court, the community have vowed to have daily pickets outside his BP garage. Mr Smit and his expensive teams of lawyers and advocates should note that the Gatherings Act allows pickets of 15 or fewer people without giving notice. So WFP are going to continue the peaceful demonstrations on the picket line.

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