Judge reads between lines on zebras

2013-10-20 14:00

A furious dispute over five misplaced zebras has landed two farm owners in the Eastern Cape High Court.

This was after five of an Eastern Cape game farmer’s Burchell’s zebra wandered off his farm and on to his neighbour’s property.

Bennie van Niekerk went to court in an attempt to compel his neighbour, Olivier Stekke, to return the animals.

But according to the judgment of the high court in Grahamstown Stekke denied “being in possession of the said zebras” and argued that there was no legal duty on him to return them.

It seems that at the heart of the dispute was the insistence by Van Niekerk that he should be allowed to hunt and shoot the animals on Stekke’s farm. Stekke had apparently “granted (Van Niekerk) permission to take the animals but was against the shooting of the animals on his farm”.

Van Niekerk argued that Stekke’s refusal to have the animals hunted on his farm “amounted to a refusal to restore possession of the said zebras”.

The court, however, dismissed the case, finding that Stekke had no intention of acquiring ownership and that he was not exercising control over the animals by insisting they could not be shot.

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