Still no solution for displaced foreigners on KZN farm

Amanda Khoza, News24

Durban - The Cato Ridge couple who opened their farm to 138 foreign nationals two months ago say their guests are still living there, despite threats to evict them.

Andrew and Rae Wartnaby, both 47, who live on Hope Farm in Killarney Valley in KwaZulu-Natal, took in the foreigners who had fled their homes following a spate of xenophobic attacks earlier this year.

The couple was told by the Mkhambathini and Msunduzi Municipalities that they had contravened land use by-laws and gave the foreigners until September 6 to move out.

"On September 7 the municipality came and asked us if the foreign nationals were still here but they didn’t come with a solution," Andrew Wartnaby said.

"We told them that [the foreigners'] attorneys were exploring every legal avenue especially one of a third country, because most of them can’t go back to Burundi or the Democratic Republic of Congo."

He said the family hadn’t heard from the municipality since then.

"We are determined to keep them here for as long as they need to be. It’s been two months now and we are doing well. Rae and some volunteers are offering home schooling for the children.

"The parents are also helping out on the farm… we have really become a close knit family.

"Their children have become friends with my children and they watch TV together. The teenagers have become friends with my teenagers and we have all developed real friendships."

Hoping to find a solution

He said the family would meet Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan on Tuesday. Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said information about the meeting was not immediately available.

"We are hoping to find a solution and that we have a happy ending."

Wartnaby admitted that donations had slowed down and that the family needed some help from the public.

"We have one vehicle that goes to the clinic and the hospital twice a week to collect chronic medication. We also take them to Home Affairs to keep their papers in order.

"They are healthy but it's keeping them healthy that is a problem."

He pleaded with the public to assist with basic food items as well as learning material.

Mayor of Mkhambathini Municipality Thobekile Maphumulo said the municipality has nothing against the foreign nationals.

"We will start implementing the by-law and start to charge [Wartnaby] because we all agreed that the foreigners would be gone by September 6. Our lawyers are working on the case and they will send letters to him," said Maphumulo.