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Media Centre  |  Letters

Open Letter to the Management of Elsenburg related to the Vaaldraai Community issues-COSATU Western Cape

17 August 2015

Open Letter to: Elsenburg Management
Provincial Government
National Government
c.c. Media
To: The Head of Department
Att: Ms Joyene Isaacs
Re: Vaaldraai Community

Dear Madam
Please receive correspondence from Cosatu Western Cape in respect of the Vaaldraai Community linked to Elsenburg, whom Cosatu is committed to assisting, to achieve greater social justice.

A cursory glance at the area shows how the Management of Elsenburg is trying to manage it into the ground, by not repairing the potholes in the road and creating a general sense of disrepair which will lead to justifying people being forced out.

I joined the concerned Community of Vaaldraai in a community meeting on Sunday 16 August 2015 to discuss the attack on their Community and livelihoods by the Management of Elsenburg.

An attack that has its roots in decades of Apartheid practices of these institutions that systematically undermined the interest of Black people in South Africa. Elsenburg has a particularly offensive history as it tried to develop Agricultural elite amongst Whites that disenfranchised Black people’s land ownership and agricultural skills.
Upon the changes in South Africa in 1994, we hoped that that would see the start of a process of transformation in Agriculture, a process that promotes transformation and social justice for Blacks. “Blacks” meaning African, Coloured and Indian members of the community of Stellenbosch and the various State farms in the area; which should have one coherent policy.

This jurisdiction of Stellenbosch and the surrounding areas would also see our demands for the return of the land leased from Municipality to White farmers in the area, just before the end of Apartheid in 1994, so we can redistribute the land to small Black farmers Cooperatives.

There were promises made that the village would be transferred to the Stellenbosch Municipality and additional houses would be built for the people who required same.
Now conveniently these discussions and agreements to include the area into the Stellenbosch IDP are conveniently forgotten and various ways are tried to remove people from the land. The eviction notices are clearly unlawful in many respects and the lawyers will pursue these matters as we develop legal and organisational strategies to oppose it. The attempts to force people out by raising the rent unilaterally shall be opposed.

Before you can talk about market related rent you must stop paying people slave wages whilst you take home huge salaries.
The Conditions of Employment of our members and workers in Elsenburg does not state that housing will be provided, but it is a position that we believe should be advanced. We should, however, build additional houses for workers that are in need of it as we do not want homes that are taken from other community members in Elsenburg. The employment from the community must be increased and workers must get fair employment conditions and prospects for advancement. The reports that we are receiving of Management victimising people for standing up for their rights, is a great concern that must end immediately.

We have advanced Black people in South Africa so that they could change the boardrooms and transform the hardships of our people, but we see the boardroom changing Black leaders to forget about transformation and social justice.
Don’t let the high salaries and company perks lead to you oppressing our people for the White elite in the DA Government who want the apartheid advantages of White people to be maintained through the impoverishment of our Black communities.

We call on the community not to allow themselves to be divided and to fight these evictions, As No One Must Be Moved Out Of Vaaldraai.
As Cosatu we will support the community to get ownership of the land that was stolen from them in the past, as part of a broader campaign to end baasskap and unfairness in the Stellenbosch area.

We trust that the company will liaise with Nehawu and the community in good faith, for land transfer and improved services, lest we have a full scale war on our hands for social justice and fairness.
Yours faithfully

VIA EMAIL – per Tony Ehrenreich
Tony Ehrenreich
COSATU Provincial Secretary
With questions, please call Tony Ehrenreich on 082 7733194

Geraldine Kennedy
COSATU Western Cape
021 448 0045 - TEL
021 448 0047 - FAX
084 6447316 - CELL
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