No room at the park for evicted fam­ily of 13

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

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.

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