All Yolanda Daniels wanted was to renovate her home and install necessities such as a ceiling – but first the single mother of three had to approach the highest court in the land.
Daniels, a domestic worker who lives on her employers’ farm in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, had to abandon her plans because her employers stopped her.
But she did not give up on her dream.
Yesterday, she won a landmark case in the Constitutional Court‚ allowing her to effect the necessary improvements to the buildings she lives in.
Chardonne Properties CC‚ which owns the farm and property where Daniels lives, had previously prevented her from making any changes to the dwelling‚ despite the poor living conditions.
The Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court initially ruled that under the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA)‚ Daniels could not make changes to the property without the owners’ consent.
Daniels refused to give up and took the matter to the Constitutional Court, where the decision was overturned.
In its judgment, the court found that the dwelling required improvements that were no more than basic human amenities.
These included levelling the floors‚ paving part of the outside area and the installation of an indoor water supply‚ a wash basin‚ a second window and a ceiling.
Daniels had made the owners aware of her intention to improve the conditions of the building at her own cost‚ and even brought in a builder to do the work.
But when the builder arrived, Chardonne manager Theo Scribante ordered him to stop.
At the Constitutional Court, Daniels argued that the improvements were meant to bring the dwelling to a level consonant with human dignity, to which the court agreed.