Gannahoek Farm is situated in the Colenso district in KwaZulu-Natal Province. In 1894, the McFie family took possession of the farm until 1990.
The labour tenants who lived on Gannahoek farm had to work on another commercial farm owned by the McFie family. In 1990, the owner, McFie, announced that he was selling this farm.
Subsequently the farm was bought by Performance Farming Enterprises (PFE) and they became official owners. The new owner wanted to establish a game farm.
The PFE rejected the labour tenancy system which was beneficial to the tenants to secure their place on the farm. Shortly the PFE issued out eviction notices. The occupants had three months to remain on the farm.
The tenants relied on the labour tenancy system for survival which gave them a sense of security. Later it was discovered that the PFE acquired the land with vacant possession, which the seller was not able to realise.
The community contested the evictions claiming that they had a right to live on the land since their forefathers had occupied the land and actively farmed it, long before the Whites came. Moreover, they believed that they had earned the right to own the farm by virtue of their labour. The farm was also of cultural and religious significance to them as their ancestor’s graves were located on this farm.
It was further alleged that the tenants were told by a representative from the PFE that they should relocate to either Waaihoek or Ezakheni, in the Ladysmith district, which were resettlement areas.The community vigorously opposed this because they would be forced to get rid of all their livestock. Furthermore, they were terrified that violence was highlyendemic in these resettlement townships.
Despite continued pleas to the PFE’s lawyer, the owners constantly prosecuted family heads. The community then hired an attorney to defend the eviction notices. Tirelessly the community resorted to open negotiations.
Finally, a Mr. Dalves Albert, the PFE, Director agreed to negotiate with the community. The negotiations commenced in May 1991. It was alleged that at first the PFE had offered the community to work on the farm and proposed that part of the remuneration would be the right to stay on the land.
In the course of the negotiations the tenants submitted their proposalwhich stated that they be granted a security of tenure, they work contractually for Performance Farming Enterprise and that they be allocated the land they had settled onand ploughed. In addition, they wanted to keep their livestock and access to their family graves which were of cultural significance to them..
The outcome of the negotiations is not clear whether the statements above were taken into consideration or executed.