Leuens Botha and the weird weir

In her autobiography Not Without a Fight, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says of her former colleague (and my neighbour) Theuns Botha: “He had a different face for each constituency, but they each had the same nickname for him: Leuens (Lies) ”. She goes on to describe how, whilst he held a senior position in the DA, Botha led a secret right-wing group within the party, plotting to either take it over or destroy it. Leaked documents reveal his method, which Zille describes as a “vilification campaign”, with Botha telling his fellow turncoats:  “Just make 100% sure you remain anonymous. Thanks. Theuns”.

This struck a chord because I’ve been vilified by Theuns Botha myself recently. He says that I lit a fire to deliberately endanger his thatched house, that I drove through his garden to demolish his outside lights and sprinklers and that I tried to murder his wife and his two police bodyguards.

 Theuns Botha

According to Botha I also stopped him from exercising his water rights and I threatened to harm his wife and daughter-in-law during his weekday absence. He says I harassed them by shining a light on their house at night, that I appeared “almost naked” before him, and that he thinks I would benefit from “psychiatric observation”.

Things got so bad, says Botha, that the SAPS VIP Protection Unit decreed the government should build an electrified perimeter fence to protect his household from the danger that I posed.

These and other fairy tales formed the basis of a three-year protection order that the Bothas were granted by the Riversdale magistrate on 12th March 2015.

I launched an application to have the order cancelled on the simple grounds that the statements made by the Bothas and their bodyguards were a pack of lies. I was looking forward to exposing the truth in open court by giving my own version and by showing up the whopping inconsistencies in theirs.

Fortunately I also had some very helpful video and audio evidence to back me up. But after 18 months – and more than a dozen court appearances – my application was dismissed.

I would like to say much more about those proceedings but they were held in camera. This bit of legal Latin literally means “in the room” and what it amounts to is that the hearings are actually held in secret; so I am not free to divulge exactly what happened.

Fortunately though, I am free to reveal exactly what didn’t happen, which is perhaps even more illuminating. What didn’t happen is that, during all those appearances, I was never once given the chance to produce a single piece of evidence of my own nor was I once given the chance to question any of my accusers. It’s a pity because I was sure that I could show them up for a bunch of liars.

In a future issue of Noseweek I’ll set out my evidence and show how Botha used his position and influence to harass and intimidate me. How he used a bogus map (published by the Western Cape Government) to justify repeated trespass on to my land amidst accusations that my gate and trees were supposedly obstructing a public road. How his police bodyguards (without even properly identifying themselves) used the same bogus map to tell me “anyone can walk in here whenever they like”.

I’ll explain how his bodyguards swore perjured statements leading to my arrest and imprisonment on charges of attempted murder and how, on the very day of my release, I was arrested yet again – this time for stealing my own dog!

As for the publicly-funded electric security fence erected around his farmhouse; was it to keep me out, or just the baboons? And finally I’ll explain how the Western Cape Government has let Botha privately fence in a public road (the only way to my farm) that is now so narrow that it can’t even be maintained properly – no grader will fit.

The weird weir

But before I get to all that, I need to recount the weird story of the weir – where it all began. It involves the Department of Water Affairs, a group of anonymous farmers, an aborted pipeline across my land to Theuns Botha’s farm and the waste of half a million rands of public money.

When this story first featured (in nose169) it raised more questions than it answered. It was all about a gauging weir in the river – the Kruisrivier – that borders my Riversdale farm. And, by the way, due to the lie of the land, all traffic to and from it must pass within about two-metres of my bedroom window. Why did Water Affairs begin a “two-month refurbishment” of the weir, only then to embark on a major rebuild instead? A project that after more than two years was only a third complete, with half-a-million rands already spent.

Why did Water Affairs then write to me with threats of an entry warrant to complete the work when I had been begging them to come and do just that for months on end? Why was the project then shelved altogether amidst promises (since broken) to clean up the mess they’d left behind? And finally, what exactly was the role of the Kruisrivier Waterverbruikers Vereniging (KWVV), a largely anonymous group of farmers with water rights downstream of the weir? 

The first water-user downstream of the weir – although apparently not a member of the KWVV – was my neighbour MEC Theuns Botha who told Noseweek back in 2013: “I was not aware of the deterioration of the weir, or the repairs to it”. So imagine my surprise when, only a month later, the DWA told me that not only did they want to complete the weir but they also wanted to add a 250m concrete pipeline across my land delivering water to Theuns Botha’s farm next door.

Fancy going to all that expense, I thought, without first asking Theuns if he even wanted it done. After all, he’d also just told Noseweek: “I use a small percentage of my allocation of river water due to the nature of my farming requirements, which are semi-lifestyle”. But now the new government pipeline would deliver 100% of his total allocation (one-sixteenth of the entire river flow) 24/7. And since MEC Botha knew nothing at all about it, obviously the public would be footing the bill.

I first heard about the planned pipeline on 11 December 2013 at a meeting called by the DWA and the KWVV. DWA director-general, Rashid Khan, didn’t pitch but sent his right-hand man, Advocate Abraham Mowzer, together with managers Frans Mouski and Johann Knoetzen. The KWVV was represented by local farmers “Wessie” Wessels and Jan van Rensburg, who steadfastly refused to identify their other members.

Although news of the pipeline to Botha’s farm came as a complete surprise to me, it was by no means the first one that morning. Earlier, Advocate Mowzer had given an admirable display of legal expertise in action: with perfect sangfroid, and without the slightest blush, he announced that the weir didn’t belong to the government after all.

Despite their previous threats of (wholly unnecessary) court action for access to the weir, the DWA didn’t even own it – and they never had!

The KWVV then took up the story, revealing that their “ancestors” had built the original weir in 1927 and that the title deeds to my farm included a servitude allowing them the necessary access.

I wasn’t averse to helping them finish the project – after all water is important around here – but by now I was feeling distinctly uncomfortable about who was who in the zoo. Besides the years of bizarre to-ing and fro-ing with the DWA and KWVV, I was also facing shenanigans from Theuns Botha about access rights elsewhere on my farm. So I was understandably cautious of historical claims about ancient servitudes, rights-of-way and so on.

The next day I wrote to the KWVV telling them that there was no reference to the weir anywhere on my
title deeds and asked for copies of their documents. I went on to say that I was nevertheless happy to meet with them again to discuss the best way forward. That was in December 2013. In May 2014 I wrote to Department of Water Affairs’ Director-General Rashid Khan along similar lines but to date neither has bothered to reply.

So the question remains: Why start a substantial multi-million-rand project and then just drop it less than halfway through?

And further questions arise. Why on earth add a massive pipeline all the way to MEC Botha’s farm, apparently without even discussing it with him first?. And finally, why does the installation remain dropped, like the proverbial “hot brick”? I leave the reader to join the dots.

That is but the preface to the multifaceted drama that was to unfold over the next few years.

[To be continued.]

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Submitted by : Susan Reid of Cape Town on 2017-02-28 23:58:57
Yet again obfuscation. It happens in business, politics, suburbia. No solution until the country ups the ante on corruption. Also depends on the lawyers who make a fortune out of these cases to the detriment of all.


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