When Nigel Owles heard that the man who had moved into his Rhodes Hotel – leaving him to live in a borrowed caravan 500 metres away (nose163) – had lost his petition to the Supreme Court of Appeal against a second eviction order, he was thrilled that his four-year ordeal was over (nose164).
His joy was, however, short-lived. The usurper, Pieter van Wyk, was figuratively tossed into the street by the newly appointed sheriff from Barkly East, but the villain of the piece had another trick up his sleeve.
While Owles and his lawyer were busy fighting a prolonged series of court cases, Van Wyk by devious means had contrived to get the hotel’s liquor licence transferred into his wife’s name, then set her up in the hotel off-sales. She also started a bakery and a coffee bar on the hotel’s premises and flatly refused to leave, claiming she had leased the property from her husband and wasn’t leaving without another eviction order.
Owles has in the meantime taken occupation of the hotel but finds himself in a bit of a pickle.
“It’s like a tsunami’s gone through my life,” says the 66-year-old who sold the hotel to Van Wyk for R4,7 million in 2009 and never got paid for it. “I’m trying to get my liquor licence back, I have no telephone, no computers, no bank account, no car and no staff.
“He took the computers with him telling the sheriff that he’d bought out my computer contracts. I’ve since received a registered letter from the asset finance company saying that there’s R50 000 in arrears but they can’t get hold of him.
“The sheriff told him what he can’t do and where he can’t go, and the next day while I was away he came in and cut the lock off the distribution board, disconnected all the electrical cables and shut off the water. It was absolute chaos for a week. The police came around to investigate and he told them that he’d done it because he needed electricity for his wife’s bakery.”
Owles says the hotel staff all want to come back to work but he can’t do anything until he has the hotel’s bank account back and can organise a loan to rebuild his business.
“I have my hotel back but I have to get them off my premises – I can’t work like this,” Owles says. “Every day she’s here and he drives past and gives me the finger. They also took all the bar stock and sold it to Tiffendell.”
As Noseweek was going to print we heard that Owles had got his liquor licence back and the police were coming around the next day to close down the illegally operated bottle store. They were also due to investigate his allegations of theft against the Van Wyks.
The wheels of justice grind exceedingly slowly. May they also grind exceedingly fine.
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