Appeal judgement goes in favour of Witvlei Meat

WINDHOEK: The threat of evicting Witvlei Meat from the abattoir that they have been renting from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia since 2006 was lifted by a judgement of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Agribank had lodged an application for an eviction order against Witvlei Meat in the High Court in May 2012, and the eviction order was granted on 20 March last year. But Witvlei Meat successfully appealed against that eviction order this week.

In the Supreme Court’s judgement relating to the Witvlei Meat appeal, Acting Judge of Appeal Johan Strydom ruled that Agribank was wrong in its view that Witvlei Meat no longer had a valid option to buy the abattoir for N.dollars 15 million, when the company decided to exercise that option in late 2009.

“In this instance, and as I have already found, the option contains all the essentials required for a sale of the immovable property so that the valid exercise thereof constituted the agreement of the parties. It follows therefore that I am of the opinion that the appeal must succeed,” Strydom stated.

Agribank claimed that Witvlei Meat’s lease for the abattoir has expired and that the company has no legal right to still occupy the premises belonging to the bank.

The bank had concluded that Witvlei Meat’s occupation of the abattoir is unlawful, and in the circumstances it (Agribank) was entitled to evict the company from the premises.

Witvlei Meat said it exercised a valid option to buy the abattoir in August 2009 by making an offer to the bank to purchase the abattoir for N.dollars 15 million, arguing that it (Witvlei Meat) would be forced to close down its operations completely if it was to be evicted from the business premises.

In the appeal judgement, Judge Strydom found that a reference in the lease renewal agreement to “all the terms and conditions of the existing deed of lease” that would continue in the new agreement included the clause in which Witvlei Meat was given an option to buy the abattoir for N.dollars 15 million.

Judge Strydom also pointed out that the Agricultural Bank Act of 2003 set out Agribank’s powers to sell, buy and let property.

Judge Strydom said if the Agribank Board acting reasonably, it would have known that any interruption of Witvlei Meat’s business, as an abattoir with overseas contracts, could spell disaster for the company and would have acted in a way to avoid such a situation arising.

Agribank was represented by Senior Counsels Thomas Bokaba and Sisa Namandje while Advocates Reinhard Totemeyer and Andrew Corbett, instructed by Hanno Bossau, represented Witvlei Meat.