Family barred from insulting neighbours

2010-03-11 00:00

A HILTON family, Hayley and Josef Martin and their son Gregor, obtained an urgent interim interdict in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday against their neighbours, Charles and Sarah Horner, whom they have accused of “provocative, insulting and threatening” behaviour.

A feud has developed between the families, who are prominent in canoeing circles.

Both Gregor Martin and the Horner’s daughter, Emma, are talented competitive canoeists locally and internationally, and Josef Martin was until last year involved in the administration of sport canoeing in KwaZulu-Natal and nationally.

Hayley Martin claims in her affidavit that Charles and Sarah Horner are “widely viewed as extremely pushy and interfering parents in Natal canoeing circles”.

Last year the Horner family allegedly fell out with Attila Adrovicz, the coach who trained both Emma Horner and Gregor Martin, as well as the Natal Canoe Club and the “bulk of canoeing squad members”, and Charles Horner was banned from the NCC.

Hayley Martin said an “unfortunate and puerile development” was that certain male canoeists, “most of whom completed school at the end of 2009”, created a profile on Facebook on which they posted offensive material and invited and made disparaging comments directed at the Horners.

Weekend Witness has reported on the alleged “cyber- bullying” directed at Emma Horner, which is under investigation by the police.

Hayley Martin said it is being alleged that canoeist Cam Marc Schoeman is mainly responsible and his computer, cellphone and other equipment were seized by police last July.

It was later alleged that her son, Gregor, was involved and — at Charles Horner’s instigation — the investigating officer came to their home in January and seized Gregor’s computer and cellphone. Her son has not been charged, she added.

Hayley Martin said their home at 500 Celtis Road shares a boundary and access road with the Horner family’s property.

Since the Facebook postings, the Horners have engaged in unpleasant and unacceptable behaviour against her family, she said.

From the time The Witness published the first article about the cyber-bullying of Emma Horner, the Horners have displayed a billboard relating to the article in a window facing the Martins’ driveway.

In addition, on “numerous and regular occasions” the entire Horner family would crowd into the window, watch the Martins and “gesticulate, make rude faces and feign uproarious laughter” while pointing at them.

On occasions when they met while shopping, the Horners allegedly pulled faces, pointed and made insulting comments.

On one occasion, Charles Horner allegedly loudly called Gregor Martin a “little prick”, and last month in Woolworths Sarah Horner allegedly stated, in reference to Hayley Martin: “I didn’t know they allowed white trash in here.”

Hayley Martin said she found the incident embarrassing, but preserved her dignity by not responding.

She said Charles Horner has taken to “tailgating” her family members when they drive along Celtis Road.

He drives “within inches of the rear bumper … gesticulating and grinning insanely”, she said. Hayley Martin said the Horners’ behaviour is not only “intrusive, offensive and demeaning”, but also dangerous, and that if Charles Horner continues his “foolhardy intimidation tactics” there will be a collision sooner or later.

She described other remarks allegedly made by the Horners, referring to a time when her family was having security cameras installed on the driveway. Sarah Horner allegedly told an employee that Hayley Martin’s husband was installing the cameras to spy on them and take photographs of Emma in her bedroom “for a pornographic website”.

Hayley Martin said that although her family has tried to maintain its dignity in the face of months of provocative behaviour by the Horners, this has not worked and the conduct has escalated. She said it is urgent that the court intervenes “before something serious occurs”.

“I believe [the Horners] have become unbalanced, and I am seriously concerned as to what they might do next,” she said.

Both parties consented to the temporary interdict granted by Judge Chris Nicholson yesterday, in terms of which the Horners are restrained from interfering with the Martins in any way. The court date on which the Horners are entitled to respond has not yet been set down.

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