Porritt battles road closure

2011-12-23 00:00

THE Snowdon Farm Trust, affiliated with controversial businessman Gary Porritt and which owns several farms around Swartberg, is locked in a bitter dispute with other landowners over the use of a private farm road in the area.

Bernice Lynne Porritt, one of the trustees of the Snowdon Trust, is the wife of Gary Porritt.

The trust reportedly owns the Berridale, Fair View, Bellevue and Constantia farms around Swartberg in the southern Drakensberg.

The farms are located on the Lesotho border and Snowdon claims they can only be accessed via one route that runs through two privately owned farms, Leydenburg and Beaumont.

The trust went to court on Monday to force the landowners to open the access route, which was allegedly closed earlier this month.

In an affidavit, trustee Jason Alistair Taylor claimed that landowners Ian Stanley Worrall, Don Ogilvie, Francois du Plessis, Dreamworld Investments, and Chestnut Hill Investment had closed the road preventing them from gaining access to their farms.

Ogilvie is an employee of Chestnut Hill Investment, which owns Leydenburg farm, while Worrall and Du Plessis are said to be shareholders in Dreamworld Investments, which owns Beaumont.

Du Plessis denied that he was a shareholder at Dreamworld Investments and said he had been confused with another Francois.

Taylor said they had purchased the four farms for summer grazing purpo­ses as they conduct various farming activities such as the breeding and rearing of cattle.

He said the access road had been operating for years and was taken as a public road, but the landowners unilaterally closed it on December 4, denying them access and affecting their business.

“Generations of farmers have co-operated in a peaceful manner, recognising the right of way to the in-lying farms … the respondents there have closed and padlocked the new gates at the boundary of Leydenburg and district road.”

Porritt, speaking on behalf of the trust, said they had to seek relief in court as the landowners had displayed unreasonable behaviour.

“That road has been operating for years, what they are doing is ridiculous and they have no legal right to do that.”

Worrall, who spoke on behalf of the landowners, said attempts by the trust to force access through their land were unsuccessful as there were no grounds for such a demand.

The presiding judge did not grant interim access across the farms and the matter was postponed indefinitely.

Worrall said the Snowdon Farm Trust has alternate access routes to their farms.

“These farms [allegedly owned by Snowdon Trust] have not been farmed for many years and there is no clear memory or evidence of access through Beaumont farm, which itself had also not been farmed for many years.

Worral said a number of alternative routes are used to access the in-lying farms.

“One of those, the route with vehicular access through Linton and Eagle’s Nest farms, which belongs to Snowdon Trust, is currently used by the trust to transfer their cattle, salt licks and other necessities to the in-lying farms.”

He said access through their land had not been allowed for many years as there are other routes.

 

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