Brother fury as a river fails to run through it

Boland bust-up rips fam­ily apart — not even mom had wa­ter

Sunday Times - - News Family Feud - By PHILANI NOMBEMBE

● Blood is thicker than wa­ter — but not for the Le Roux brothers of the Boland, whose war over a river has crossed the gen­er­a­tions.

Ten­sions be­tween the brothers, An­dries and Schalk, came to a head when Schalk de­cided to sell his por­tion of a farm that had been in the fam­ily’s hands for decades — and now the drama is play­ing out in the High Court in Cape Town.

An­dries and Schalk bought Gou­dyn, a grape farm in Raw­sonville, from their fa­ther in 1983 and di­vided it be­tween them­selves. An­dries’s farm ac­cessed wa­ter from the Wol­wen­kloof River via a servi­tude on Schalk’s por­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers, An­dries filled in the fur­row that sup­plied dams on the farms af­ter Schalk sold his farm to the TC Botha Trust in 2012. This not only af­fected the trust; the brothers’ mother, who lived in a cot­tage on the farm, was also left wa­ter­less.

Be­fore he died, An­dries trans­ferred his land to Gou­dyn Plase Trust, in which his son Carel is a trustee, keep­ing the lit­i­ga­tion alive.

“It is sub­mit­ted that [we] are ma­li­ciously be­ing ha­rassed by the fi­nan­cially strong [Gou­dyn Plase Trust] af­ter hav­ing dared to [buy] the farm known as por­tion 3, which had pre­vi­ously been owned by the Le Roux fam­ily for many decades,” the TC Botha Trust said in court pa­pers.

Carel’s trust wanted the court to stop the new own­ers from “in­ter­fer­ing with or im­ping­ing upon [our] servi­tu­tal rights” and com­pel them to “per­mit the full flow of all wa­ter ab­stracted by [Carel’s] servi­tude weir in the Wol­wen­kloof River”. It also wanted the new own­ers to de­mol­ish a weir they con­structed about 50m from the servi­tude af­ter floods de­stroyed the old one in 2013.

But the new own­ers de­nied any wrong­do­ing and told the court the real rea­son for the lit­i­ga­tion was “ma­li­cious venge­ful­ness” by Carel and other trustees.

“The two brothers, it ap­pears, al­ways had bad blood be­tween them. This even­tu­ally led to them sep­a­rat­ing the farm­land and the farm­ing busi­ness they were con­duct­ing to­gether.”

Schalk was called to tes­tify in the mat­ter

af­ter he ac­cused his brother, in an af­fi­davit, of dup­ing him. “The af­fi­davit is re­plete with scathing al­le­ga­tions of fraud and de­ceit on the part of his late brother,” Carel’s coun­sel, An­dre le Grange, told the court.

“The al­le­ga­tions were made for the first time af­ter the pass­ing of his brother. The in­vi­ta­tion that was di­rected to Mr Schalk le Roux’s at­tor­ney . . . in the life­time of his late brother . . . to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions by Mr An­dries le Roux that he only al­lowed wa­ter to be used by his brother as a mat­ter of cour­tesy, was also never re­sponded to prior to the pass­ing of Mr An­dries le Roux.”

But The­u­nis Botha, a trustee of the TC Botha Trust, said An­dries apol­o­gised to him on his deathbed for the mis­ery he had caused him.

“An­dries le Roux, who launched these two venge­ful at­tacks on Schalk le Roux and on [the TC Botha Trust], on his deathbed ac­knowl­edged his wrong­ful ac­tion in this saga and begged his in­no­cent neigh­bour, TC Botha, and his brother Schalk, for for­give­ness,” the court pa­pers read.

Judge Ash­ley Binns-Ward dis­missed Carel’s ap­pli­ca­tion with costs and ad­vised the par­ties to co-op­er­ate in us­ing the new weir.

“It is clear from the ev­i­dence that neigh­bourly re­la­tions . . . have been an­tag­o­nis­tic, to say the least, since the sale of por­tion 3 to the [TC Botha Trust],” said Binns-Ward.

“There has been pre­vi­ous un­re­solved lit­i­ga­tion be­tween them . . . con­cern­ing the use of the weir on the Wol­wen­kloof River and also dis­putes about rights of road ac­cess. It is ev­i­dent the at­mos­phere has been such that emo­tion would tend to pre­vail over prag­ma­tism and rea­son.”

Carel’s lawyer, Jo­hannes Petrus du Bois, said his clients in­tended to ap­peal. “I have al­ready writ­ten a let­ter to the other side,” said Du Bois. “My ad­vo­cate is over­seas. We are dis­cussing it now, but we will def­i­nitely lodge a leave to ap­peal.”

Pic­ture: Esa Alexan­der

Gou­dyn, a grape farm in Raw­sonville in the Boland re­gion, is at the cen­tre of a war over ac­cess to wa­ter that is pit­ting fam­ily fac­tions against each other.

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