Brother fury as a river fails to run through it
Boland bust-up rips family apart — not even mom had water
● 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.”
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.