Durban - The eldest resident, 75-year-old June Steynberg, who has lived at the Winklespruit Caravan Park for 15 years, is not sleeping for fear of her uncertain future.
“I am worrying myself silly,” she said on Thursday.
Demolishers are due to move on to the sprawling site that they call home next week.
The communal ablution block will come down and the water and electricity – which has been illegally connected – will be cut.
Although the residents have had plenty of warning that the land has been sold to a developer, and that they have got to move, they say they have been unable to find alternative accommodation.
Local councillor, Andre Breetge, said it was a tragic situation and his heart bled for the community, which he had tried to help.
“If I had a magic wand to help them, I would. But there is no solution unless we can find some land or accommodation for the residents.”
He had already appealed to the wider community for help, and although he received a few offers of accommodation, the caravan site residents wanted to take their pets with them, which was not possible. Thus the offers were not taken up.
“We love our pets and don’t want to leave them behind,” said one of the caravan park residents, Dalene Crawford, who has four dogs.
Breetge said the residents had two problems: they have no money for deposits, and they don’t want to leave their animals behind, “and that makes it very difficult for people to come forward to help them”.
They have 19 cats and 17 dogs between them. The animals are well fed, thanks to a local woman who delivers feed to the site.
“We have received lots of assistance in the way of food and clothing, which we appreciate, but no one can help us with accommodation,” said Crawford, a relief car guard.
The residents recalled that their worries began when the previous owner, Carel (Nicky) Stapelberg died at the end of 2014. His brother, Nico, inherited the property, later telling them he had sold the property and they had to leave.
A bank representative, acting for the estate, gave them letters stating them had until April 2015 to leave.
Stapelberg paid R399 000 for the electricity bill from the estate so they could continue their lives, but they never left, he said.
He sold to developer Ivan Pretorius of Alley Road Construction, who is pumping more than R1.5 billion into the eManzimtoti area on various projects. Pretorius plans to build an eco-estate on the caravan site and intends putting up 60 units.
A legal organisation which stepped in to help the community asked the developer to give R120 000 towards the cost of a piece of land for them, the idea being that the organisation would match the figure.
The developer agreed, but the fund-raising for the balance never happened.
A retired lawyer acting for the organisation found land in Craigieburn, further down the South Coast
Breetge, who saw the land, said it was outside a municipal area and there was no infrastructure or services. The money would have accommodated about five families in small huts, “but what about the rest?” he asked.
The families also said the site was unsuitable because it was too far from their children’s schools, there was no transport, and it was too far from where some of them worked as car guards.
The lawyer then gave the money back to the developer.
Some residents have since moved out – but some have also moved back in.
Len Brown, acting for Pretorius, said they felt sorry for the residents, “but we gave them over a year to go and on top of that the developer is expected to pay R348 000 for their electricity and water, which is still ticking.”