One of the permanent residents of the De Mond Caravan Park is dismayed by what he considers the strong-arm tactics of the Overstrand Municipality, claiming that he is being harassed and intimidated.
Matters came to a head this weekend when, shortly after arriving from Durban for a week-long visit,Keith Hampshire’s daughter and granddaughter were ordered by security guards to leave the camp, claiming they were acting on instructions from the municipality. According to Hampshire, Law Enforcement officers on the scene also threatened to arrest and “lock up” his visitors. “It’s like living in a prison,” Hampshire says. “I consider this a contravention of our constitutional right to freedom of movement.”
Since then, Hampshire’s daughter Cindy Prinsloo and granddaughter Natasha Deysel have been confined to his cabin in De Mond. “We are too afraid to go out, as the security guards have warned us that they will not let my daughter and granddaughter back in,” Hampshire says. “Where are they supposed to go? I don’t have the money to put them up in a hotel. This is their first visit to Hermanus and it was supposed to be a joyful family reunion. My granddaughter is recuperating from a recent illness, but far from being able to relax this experience has been extremely stressful for all of us.”
After initially being allowed into the camp when they arrived on Friday evening, Prinsloo and Deysel were denied access when they returned from a sight-seeing trip on Saturday. Hampshire had to call for help from Hermanus SAPS and they were escorted back into the camp by a police officer when no eviction order could be produced by the security guards or Law Enforcement officials.
Hampshire is one of five residents who were excluded from the eviction order handed down by the Cape High Court on 10 December last year, ordering the members of the De Mond Caravan Park to vacate the premises by 21 December. Access to the camp has since been controlled by security guards from Quest Security, who are employed by the municipality.
When contacted by Hermanus Times for comment, spokesperson for the Overstrand Municipality Fanie Krige said they are in the process of negotiations with the five residents and prefer to respond through their legal representative, Deirdré Olivier from Fairbridges Attorneys.
According to a statement released by Olivier the five residents have no consent or right of law to occupy the park. “The only reason the five persons were excluded from the court order to immediately vacate by 21 December 2012 was because they claimed to reside there as their “home”. The municipality must accordingly seek, either by agreement or by court order, to get them to vacate in terms of a separate legal process.”
Until such time, Olivier says, no persons other than the five permanent residents are entitled to enter or stay overnight without permission from the owner, namely the municipality. But Hampshire says this was never made clear to them and that the municipality has never responded to his repeated requests to supply the rules in writing. He also points out that some of the other residents have recently had visitors for long periods and that there did not seem to be any complaints about that. “Why do these so-called rules only apply to some of us and not to others?” he asks.
Hampshire nevertheless took it upon himself to apply for permission on 21 February a week before his daughter and granddaughter’s imminent visit. “I sent my request to Afriforum’s vice chairperson in Hermanus, Ria van der Merwe, who is supporting us in our negotiations with the municipality, but I never got a reply from them.”
The request was only relayed to the municipal manager, Coenie Groenwald’s, office a week later and by the time his response was forwarded to Hampshire one sentence refusing permission his daughter and granddaughter had already boarded a bus in Durban and were travelling towards Hermanus.
Martine Viljoen of Hurter Spies Inc, who represented the De Mond Caravan Park Association in the case brought against them by the municipality last year, says in order to evict any of the permanent residents or their visitors, the municipality would have to apply for a new court order. She also confirms that no such action has been taken and that the parties are currently engaged in negotiations, the details of which are confidential.
“I’m astonished by all this,” Hampshire says. “My daughter and granddaughter are only here for one week. They have a return ticket back to Durban on Saturday. What possible harm can there be in them spending a few days with me and showing them our beautiful town?”