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‘Sol wants my house’

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“I have lived in this house for all these years and all my children were born and grew up here. My children are now all grown up and have their own homes."

NOWHERE TO GO: An emotional August Lani was informed by the municipality that it would be bulldozing his eight-roomed home in Lerato Park and he would be forced to move into a shanty in the area as they are busy surveying the land. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A 93-YEAR-old Kimberley man, August Lani, has been threatened that he will be evicted from his farmhouse in Lerato Park, which he claims was given to him by his employer 35 years ago.

According to an emotional and tearful Lani, the Sol Plaatje Municipality informed him that the land had been allocated for development and he would have to find somewhere else to live.

Lani said he had lived in the house for many years and it was the only solid structure in the area as the other homes are all shanties.

“I have lived here since 1984. This area used to be a cattle farm, called Kamfersdam. I worked on the farm for many years and the owner’s daughter gave me the farmhouse when she got married and left Kimberley,” Lani said. “I have lived in this house for all these years and all my children were born and grew up here. My children are now all grown up and have their own homes.

“It is heartbreaking that the municipality wants to demolish my house and states that I must erect myself a shanty. I earned this house as a result of all my hard work. I cannot now go and live in a shanty while my eight-roomed home is being demolished.”

He added that the issue had been very traumatic for him and his family.

“I raised all my children in this house. I had 10 children but only six are still alive. They all grew up in this house. My grandchildren come and play at my house every day. My wife and I even took in my brother’s son, who stays in the outside room. We have created many memories in this house.

“I worked hard and always wanted to retire comfortably but now I am left destitute and am being pushed out of a solid house where I have had security for so many years.

“The officials from the municipality repeatedly come and tell me that I must pack up and move. They were here again this morning (yesterday), threatening me, as they state that they want to demolish the house. My son managed to stop them after I called him and told him what was happening.”

Lani added his house was not only an “oasis” to his own family but also to other residents in the area. “The people in this area have no water and they come get water from my tap. We allow them as we see and understand their plight.”

Lani said that a letter stating that the owner had left the house to him had been burnt. “Before my employer left Kimberley, we went to the police station and signed the agreement to state that I am the rightful owner of the house. I kept that paper for all the years. However, my wife burnt that paper along with some other things some years back.”

Lani’s son, Dawid Lani, said he had approached many people to assist in the matter.

“I have spoken to the councillor and I have also sent several messages to the premier but no one is willing to assist us. This is a very traumatic experience for my parents as the threats have been coming for many months. They always call us and we have to intervene and calm them down when the people from the council come here. These are old people who are now being subjected to unnecessary stress,” Dawid said.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie said that they will investigate the matter.

“The land where the house is situated has been zoned for business. We will sit down and consult the matter with the affected parties. The owners of the house will have to come forward with proof that they are the rightful owners of the house. There is a deeds office that can assist with information on all title deeds. We will also present the matter to the town planners and they will investigate. This is a challenge but it will be treated with the necessary humanity. The municipality cannot just move people before a conclusive investigation has been done,” said Matsie.