Windmeul Cellar's Statement regarding unlawful occupiers

Friday, 29 March, 2019
Windmeul Cellar
The Directors and Management of Windmeul Kelder (Pty) Ltd (“Windmeul”) would hereby like to report the conclusion of a legal eviction of a number of illegal occupiers from their premises at the intersection of the R44 and Vryguns Road, Windmeul, Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa.

None of the persons evicted were farm workers and none were employed by Windmeul. Only one person, Mr Alfred May, was previously employed by Windmeul, but his employment was duly and legally terminated, as early as November 2008, within the context of the Labour Relations Act, after he was found guilty of illegally selling liquor on the property. Subsequent to termination of his employment he was requested to vacate the premises, but he refused.

From the onset Windmeul emphasises that it has at all times followed applicable court rules and legislation and acted within its rights, while simultaneously respecting the rights of the illegal occupiers, in accordance the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. All service of process was duly conducted through the office of the Sheriff of the court. At all times the Drakenstein Municipality and the Western Cape Provincial Department of Rural Development and Land Reform were kept abreast of the process. The eviction of the occupiers did not occur abruptly, but was the culmination of a nearly decade long process at a large financial cost to Windmeul. Windmeul is cognizant of, and sympathises with the hardships currently experienced by the former occupiers and this is regrettable, but this was considered by the court, agreed to between the parties, and the court issued an order by agreement.

The institution and prosecution of these proceedings was occasioned by a material and irretrievable breakdown of the relationship between Windmeul and the occupiers. The occupiers’ conduct, in brief, includes: destruction of property, overcrowding and the illegal use and sale of narcotics and alcohol, including sale of these substances by the occupiers to minor children, which forced Windmeul to bring such eviction proceedings into fruition. All of these misconducts took place on Windmeul’s property, which is obviously a totally intolerable situation. These facts can be readily discerned form the papers (some 450 + pages) filed of record and freely available to the public.

It should be noted that the occupiers, despite being competently legally represented, did not at any time seek to deny any of the allegations set out above.

The current proceedings commenced with the first notice being delivered to the occupiers on or about July 2017. In such notice, on Windmeul’s own volition, Windmeul afforded the occupiers assistance to vacate the premises and implored the occupiers to meaningfully engage with us. Windmeul further held a meeting with the occupiers on 4 April 2018, during which there was meaningful engagement in an attempt to amicably resolve matters. As an amicable resolution was not possible, on 30 April 2018, Windmeul obtained an order from the Land Claims Court wherein it was lawfully ordered that the occupiers were to vacate the premises on or before 30 June 2018, and whereafter Windmeul were lawfully entitled to evict the occupiers on or after 14 July 2018. Despite being fully aware of these proceedings the occupiers chose not to oppose them.

However, shortly before the occupiers were due to be evicted, the occupiers’ legal representatives brought an application to rescind the 30 April 2018 order and simultaneously brought an urgent application to stay the execution. The rescission application, by agreement between the parties, was set down to be heard, and was heard on 10 August 2018. Further, in good faith, Windmeul agreed to stay the execution of the order, pending judgment on the rescission application.

Again, by agreement between the parties, with the occupiers still duly legally represented, an order was granted by the Land Claims Court on 10 August 2018, wherein the occupiers agreed to vacate the premises on or before 15 January 2019. They further agreed that in the event that they did not vacate the property as they had undertaken to do, they could be removed from the premises by the Sheriff of the court.

Windmeul further, without any admission/concession, in good faith, afforded the occupiers an additional two months to vacate, despite the aforementioned date. It was only on yesterday, 26 March 2019, that the sheriff of the High Court, pursuant to a warrant issued by the registrar of the Land Claims Court, removed the occupiers from the property in accordance with due process.

Pursuant to the eviction which occurred yesterday, the Drakenstein Municipality informed us that they
made urgent arrangements to relocate the occupiers to New Orleans Park, where they were to receive
accommodation and food. However, upon the Municipality's truck arrival yesterday, Windmeul is advised
the occupiers refused to move and reacted with aggression.

Windmeul trusts that this brief recounting of the events in this matter dismisses any unwarranted, undue and unjustified aspersions that Windmeul are currently being subjected to. In the spirit of transparency and openness, should you have any queries or require any documents please do not hesitate to contact Windmeul.

Yours faithfully,