Doornkop/Doornsluiten farm was located in Utrecht, a town in Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal). To the west lay Annandale farm which was acquired by the South African Development Trust (SADT) in 1954. The farm was owned by a White man and comprised of the SADT land and Black freehold farms.
The homesteads, of the people of Doornkop, were evidence of the shortage of access to land Black people were subjected to according to the 1913 Land Act. The Act restricted Black people from buying or occupying land except as an employee of a White master. White people were entitled to a larger proportion of land; hence they had 87% ownership of land in contrast to the 13% owned by Black people.
Doornkop’s previous owner, an absentee landlord, evicted about 100 tenants from his farm in 1976. The removal was carried out by the police and the Department of Co-operation and Development. The people were moved to Mzimhlophe, a settlement in the district of Qudeni. It is probable that Mzimhlophe served as a relocation point for many evictees from White owned farms in the mid 1970s.
Unexpectedly, after the first eviction, the owner began taking on new tenants. Upon their arrival they received permission to occupy the land for an indefinite period. It was further announced that the farm would be incorporated into KwaZulu at some point.
The new tenants paid an initial fee of R14 to gain access to a plot; moreover they had to pay an annual rent of R6O to secure their place on the land. Distinct families were required to contribute an amount of R90 towards the construction of two boreholes for water on the property. In spite of all this, the tenants remained under threat of eviction due to the abrupt changes made by the government’s statements.
In one instance the man who was responsible for collecting rent didn’t show up and, as a result, Doornkop residents did not pay rent. Despite the fact that they were not at fault, the owner issued them with their first three months eviction notice in June 1983.
The eviction was then postponed until May 1984. On 14 May 1984 the magistrate at Dannhauser informed the tenants that they no longer had to move because the SADT was keen to buy the farm.
In July 1984, a Black businessman, from Madadeni, arrived at Doornkop and claimed that he had bought the farm. He ordered the residents to leave by the end of July that same year. In response to this, residents opted to buy individual plots from the SADT so they could remain at Doornkop. Their choice was ignored and a month later the businessman sent police to issue eviction notices to the occupants at Doornkop. It later emerged that the business man had been leasing land from the White owner. No official papers were produced as evidence.
In March 1985, the people of Doornkop heard rumours of eviction once more. A representative from the Chief Commissioner’s office in Natal (now kwaZulu-Natal) informed the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA)that official documents of sale would be coming through at any time to verify that the businessman was buying the farm. The people were then informed by AFRA that it seemed impractical for them to contest the removals if the businessman had indeed become the new owner.
Mike Tarr, the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) MP for Pietermaritzburg, subsequently questioned the Minister of Co-operation and Development, Dr.Viljoen, why the government had refrained from buying Doornkop. In response the Minister told Tarr that the land would no longer be sold to the businessman.
This was still not a guarantee for the people of Doornkop because it was further said that should the SADT succeed in buying the land, only then will the people settle here. The Doornkop tenants remained unsure about their security of tenure due to the abrupt changes made by the government whenever it was convenient.
• Department Of Rural Development and Land Reform, 1913 Natives’ Land Act Centenary, [online], Available at www.dla.gov.za [Accessed: 05 September 2013]