No room at the park for evicted family of 13
A PAARL family has little to celebrate as they bring in the new year anxiously waiting to learn whether they will find themselves homeless, as a municipal eviction order hangs over them.
The bleak prospects for the 13-member Phillipus family, the youngest member of which is one-year-old Janelyn, is a continuation of a saga that has been going on since 2008.
That was when the Drakenstein Municipality moved them to a chalet in the Orleans Caravan Park, promising them they would get a permanent home. They had at the time been evicted from a Lemoenkloof farm, where Jan Phillipus worked as farm manager.
Now they face eviction again, after the municipality ordered them to “move out or be kicked out”, say Jan Phillipus and his wife Lena.
Weekend Argus contacted the Drakenstein Municipality for comment, but was referred to the Paarl East housing department. Several attempts to contact that department proved unsuccessful yesterday.
The family has contracted a lawyer to fight eviction, but as the new year looms doubt they will win their case.
“We moved to the park because they promised us a permanent home, but now they want to kick us out on to the street instead of helping us. My husband is a labourer and I do odd jobs, but our monthly income is less than R3 000. We can barely live off that amount and can’t afford to move and support our family,” Lena said.
She added that there was “a dark cloud” over them when they woke each morning and when they went to bed at night.
“They’re a government department and we’re normal people. We don’t know if or how we can fight them. We can’t live like this, but our only option is to wait and see what happens.”
Her husband was fired for misconduct from his job as farm manager in November 2008, allegedly after having an affair with one of the workers. And the family left with nowhere to go.
After spending two nights on the streets, the municipality intervened and offered them temporary accommodation until a permanent home could be found. They were first moved to the Colibri Hall in Wellington for a week, then to the Fairyland informal settlement just outside Paarl.
Less than two weeks into their stay, they said, a group of men threatened to rape one of their daughters and they were then moved to the caravan park where they have lived ever since, in a two-room chalet.
The 4m by 4m main room, which doubles as their bedroom, is filled with beds and mattresses for most of the family members. But the 4m by 2.5m kitchen is also used as a bedroom. The overcrowding has led Jan and Lena to sleep in their bakkie, while their chronically ill uncle, Pieter Phillipus, sleeps in an abandoned car next to the chalet. Hardly any of their furniture fits inside, so lies scattered around the lawn outside.
When a Weekend Argus news team visited the family, the park manager called the police.
Lena said they had pleaded with the park manager to help them store their furniture, but he had refused. Some had already been stolen.
“All we can do is watch as everything we own disappears bit by bit,” she said.
They were now concerned for the future of their family.
“We were promised help and that’s all we want, but now we might be kicked on to the street. We honestly don’t know what we’d do if that happened, but it will destroy our family,” Lena said.
POLICE ESCORT: Police arrive to escort the Weekend Argus news team from the Orleans Caravan Park in Paarl, following a call from the manager. The team was interviewing the 13-member Phillipus family, who face eviction by the Drakenstein Municipality.
MOBILE HOME: Pieter Phillipus, 66, sleeps in an abandoned car next to his family’s chalet in the caravan park because of the lack of space for him inside.