Fear and loathing around Cape Point


Fear and loathing around Cape Point

[Readers should note Mr Sybrand van der Spuy's detailed responses to this story which can be found in the comments field below it. – Ed.]

Sybrand van der Spuy, accountant, developer and owner of the most southerly vineyards in the Cape Peninsula, is notorious for intimidating his unhappy neighbours with a barrage of defiance, threats and emotional blackmail

In short, Van der Spuy, the “gentleman winemaker” is a man who likes to get his own way. You’ll find him in Noordhoek, Cape Town, where he owns Cape Point Vineyards. He has also been involved in several developments – making a variety of enemies along the way – one reason being that he’s been known to use the developers’ favourite race trick that goes something like this: Stop opposing my commercial plans or I’ll put sub-economic housing here; I’ll tell the poor you’re depriving them of jobs; and I’ll arrange for them to protest outside your property.

Van der Spuy is equally firm with tardy officialdom. In 2012, after the city issued an order that he stop hosting certain events at his wine estate, he sent a defiant email to various city officials and Noordhoek residents: The letter featured a range of “weapons” in his arsenal of persuasives – defiance, threats and emotional blackmail.

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Submitted by : Sybrand van der Spuy of NOORDHOEK on 2014-04-10 10:39:48
Here are my responses to some of the points raised in the story (IN CAPS):
"Although he initially applied for permits, the applications were turned down. So he simply stopped applying." ALL MY 8 LUPO APPLICATIONS HAVE BEEN APPROVED. I HAD TO APPEAL MANY CONDITIONS IN THE DIFFERENT APPROVALS. AN EVENTS APPLICATION HAS INITIALLY BEEN REJECTED. THIS WAS OVERTURNED ON APPEAL. I HAVE APPLIED FOR EVERYTHING I DO. THE STATEMENT IS FALSE.
"...he’s been known to use the developers’ favourite race trick that goes something like this: Stop opposing my commercial plans or I’ll put sub-economic housing here." THIS IS FALSE. I HAVE OFFERED A PORTION OF LAND TO THE CITY FOR LOW COST HOUSING. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY APPLICATION AND WAS NOT AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO AN APPLICATION. DESCRIBING IT AS A RACE TRICK IS WITHOUT FOUNDATION.
"I’ll tell the poor you’re depriving them of jobs and I’ll arrange for them to protest outside your property.." ALL MY APPLICATIONS INVOLVE THE CREATION OF JOBS. THE EFFECT OF OBJECTIONS HAS BEEN TO POSTPONE THE CREATION OF JOBS

"Van der Spuy is equally firm with officialdom. In 2012, after the city issued an order that he stop hosting certain events at his wine estate, he sent a defiant email to various city officials: 'Be advised we will not comply with the attached notice as we do not believe our activities are unlawful.' He threatened: 'I have from time to time alerted you that we have suffered damages regarding your actions and intend to claim it jointly and severally from you.'” WE WERE BEING CLEAR WITH OUR INTENTIONS, IT WAS NOT A THREAT.

"Then, adding a smidgeon of emotional blackmail: “I have written to you previously detailing that some of the proceeds would go to continue to feed a couple of thousand poor children in the area. They probably currently go to bed hungry every night because of your disgusting actions.” AGAIN THIS IS FACT AND NOT EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL. A CHARITABLE TRUST FOUNDED AND FUNDED BY ME OWNS 23% OF THE DEVELOPMENT, EX-SERINA EMPLOYEES OWN 14%. THE CITY HAS SO FAR TAKEN 7 YEARS WITH THE APPLICATION. AN APPEAL HAS BEEN WITH THE PROVINCIAL MEC FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS FOR 18 MONTHS NOW. LUPO SPECIFIES DECISIONS SHOULD BE TAKEN IN 7 MONTHS. MY CHARITABLE TRUST WITH OTHER ENTITIES OF MINE HAS SO FAR DONATED MORE THAN R2.7.M FEEDING POOR CHILDREN IN NEARBY TOWNSHIPS. SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT WILL ALOW THE TRUST TO SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASE THESE EFFORTS. WE ESTIMATE POOR PEOPLE HAVE LOST AT LEAST R50M DUE TO DELAYS BY THE CITY AND PROVINCE

"In 2011 Van der Spuy began hosting events at his vineyard. It started small, with picnics and the like, but has grown into something huge. In addition to the picnics (open daily), there are at least four events a week including markets, food fairs and even a burger evening." THERE IS ONLY ONE “EVENT" PER WEEK, THE WEEKLY MARKET. THERE ARE NO FOOD FAIRS THE BURGER EVENING IS NOT AN EVENT BUT AN OFFERING OF THE RESTAURANT WHICH WAS APPROVED SOME MONTHS AGO.

Some of these events attract up to 3,000 people. NOT TRUE. ONLY THE WEEKLY MARKET ATTRACTS LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE.

"There is now even talk of Kirstenbosch-style concerts, as many as 12 a year." STATEMENT OUT OF CONTEXT. I HAVE NOTIFIED NEIGHBOURS THAT I WISH TO APPLY FOR 12 CHARITY CONCERTS PER YEAR. WE HAVE RAISED R450 000 IN THE APPROVED CHARITY CONCERT IN DECEMBER. THE MONEY IS APPLIED TO FEED MORE THAN 400 CHILDREN ON A DAILY BASIS. I FUND THE COSTS OF THE EVENT, THE GROSS GATE GOES TO CHARITY. ONE OBJECTOR SAID OF THESE PROPOSED CONCERTS: IT IS NOT MY PROBLEM THAT THESE PEOPLE ARE POOR. I WISH TO BE ABLE TO SLEEP IN PEACE AT THAT TIME (THE CONCERTS WOULD END AT 21H00).
WE ONLY HAD 14 OBJECTORS TO THE MARKET. SIX NEIGHBOURS WROTE LETTERS OF SUPPORT (4 OF THEM ARE THE CLOSEST ONES TO THE ACTUAL EVENT AREA). AT LEAST 13 NEIGHBOURS DID NOT OBJECT. THE PREVIOUS CONSERVANCY CHAIR CONDUCTED AN E-MAIL SURVEY IN NOORDHOEK REGARDING OUR MARKETS. 60 OUT OF 62 SUPPORTED IT. 1350 PEOPLE HAS SIGNED A PETITION IN FAVOUR AND 2000 – 3000 PEOPLE ATTEND THE MARKETS - THEY VOTE WITH THEIR FEET! ABOUT 56% OF VISITORS ARE FROM THE AREA (PER OUR PETITIONS) NEAG HAS ONLY ABOUT 40 MEMBERS.

• “Once again on Thursday night (7 November 2013) we had cars streaming down the Cape Point Vineyards road after 22h15 ...we have now put American shutters on our bedroom windows and we are still hearing the cars come down.” AN INDEPENDENT NOISE EXPERT FOUND THAT WE DO NOT EXCEED NOISE REGULATIONS. A CONDITION OF APPROVAL IS A “NOISE MANAGEMENT PLAN. THIS WILL INCLUDE A FURTHER NOISE EVALUATION BY A NOISE EXPERT. WE WILL COMPLY WITH ANY PROPOSALS

• “This market... has a profound and detrimental effect on the daily life of its neighbours. Noise levels produced by thousands of people partying at the vineyards, cars driving up and down, drunken shouting and now potentially music from so called ‘charity’ concerts…" SEE ABOVE. THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING LIES IN THE EATING. 400 CHILDREN ARE CURRENTLY HAVING DAILY MEALS BECAUSE OF THE CONCERT.

"The quiet residential and very rural area of Noordhoek is being destroyed by the greedy profit motive of one individual who regularly bullies, litigates AND MANIPULATES … I HAVE NEVER TAKEN MONEY OUT OF THE VINEYARD BUSINESS AND HAVE INVESTED MILLIONS. COULD HAVE MADE TENS OF MILLIONS HAD I PROCEEDED WITH A SUBDIVISION PROPOSAL FOR WHICH I HAVE A RECORD OF DECISION. I HAVE NEVER BEFORE INITIATED LITIGATION AGAINST AN INDIVIDUAL IN NOORDHOEK. BUT NEAG/CONSERVANCY HAVE UNSUCCESSFULLY TAKEN ME TO COURT TWICE.

"Not only is Van der Spuy’s conduct anti-social, it’s illegal too." THE RESTAURANT/PICNICS AND FUNCTIONS WERE APPROVED ON 12 FEBRUARY.THE MARKETS IN MARCH. NOSEWEEK DID NOT BOTHER TO APPRAISE ITSELF OF THE FACTS. [We had gone to press by the time this information became available.- Ed.]

"Although he did initially apply for permits for these events, the applications were turned down because of objections from the locals." THIS IS FALSE. ONLY ONE APPLICATION OF MINE WAS EVER TURNED DOWN AND THEN REVERSED ON APPEAL - SEE ABOVE. So he’s just stopped applying. FALSE. I HAVE APPLIED FOR EVERYTHING I DO.

On top of that, Van der Spuy’s 2012 land use rezoning/commercial rights application – which involved building a restaurant – has not yet been granted. FALSE, IT HAS BEEN APPROVED

"Meantime Van der Spuy has simply gone ahead and put up a building that is much larger than the one in the official application" FALSE. THE BUILDING IS NOT LARGER THAN OUR APPLICATION. Without approved plans. Without a completion certificate. Which presumably means there’s no insurance on the building. BUILDING IS INSURED. IN ADDITION WE HAVE PUBLIC LIABILITY INSURANCE. HEALTH AND SAFETY FROM CITY HAS INSPECTED THE BUILDING TWICE AND FOUND THAT WE COMPLIED WITH ALL REGULATIONS.




"On 26 September he sent an email to the Spelum committee that will decide his application. Again he began with a show of defiance: “I wish to alert you beforehand that we have commenced the erection of buildings... to this end please find attached a legal opinion from Werksmans...." THE WERKSMANS LETTER SIMPLY SAID THAT THE CITY COULD NOT HOLD UP THE PROCESS BECAUSE OF ALLEGED ILLEGAL STRUCTURES. LUPO STATES THE ONLY CONSIDERATION IS DESIRABILITY. CONTRAVENTIONS OF THE LAW IS DEALT WITH IN OTHER LEGISLATION.



"'I therefore alerted them that I was going to proceed with activities regardless.'” I SAID IT IN THE CONTEXT THAT IF THEY EXCEEDED THE LEGALLY PRESCRIBED TIME LINES, I WOULD DO SO.

"Name-dropping ... 'At the time I wrote to now Premier Zille that my granddaughter of six had more common sense... no one can run a business in this manner.'” I HAVE NEVER MET ZILLE. I WROTE TO HER AS THEN MAYOR TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE LUDICROUS CONDITIONS IMPOSED BY THE CITY (IN THIS CASE THAT I HAD TO LANDSCAPE GARDENS BEFORE STANDS ARE SOLD AND THEN MAINTAIN THEM WHILST HOUSES ARE BEING CONSTRUCTED.)

Again he threw in a dose of emotional blackmail: “About 70 employees depend on the application... [another] application... caters for another 70 employees... I have taken the decision that I would rather explain my commencement of activities to a judge than let 150 people be unemployed…in RSA each employed person supports 10 people... thus 1500 people would go to bed hungry if I curtailed my activities.” THE STATEMENT IS FACTUALLY CORRECT. NO BLACKMAIL IS INVOLVED.




An environmental group, the Noordhoek Environmental Action Group (Neag), ... has also asked the city to bring a civil action against Van der Spuy requesting a demolition order.

"The city seems to be up for it; on 4 November Ossie Gonsalves of the planning and building department wrote to Neag: 'A request for authority to apply for an interdict and demolition order was forwarded to the legal office in October.'” I HAVE NOT HEARD FROM THE CITY.

But Neag fears that Van der Spuy’s political connections may save him.THIS ASSERTION HAS NO BASIS TO IT. I AM NOT A MEMBER OF THE DA, I HAVE NEVER DONATED ANY MONEY. NEAG CAN’T TAKE IT THAT THE CITY HAS IGNORED THEIR OBJECTIONS IN EACH OF MY 8 LUPO APPLICATIONS

"In an email to the city, a Neag representative said: “It has come to my attention that Felicity Purchase (Ward Councillor) actually attended the function and seems to support what is happening there ..."
"I suspect certain politicians are actively supporting SvdS to get around the law and due process ..." STATEMENT WITHOUT ANY SUBSTANCE.

To add to the intrigue, there’s clearly friction between Purchase, (who attended the newspaper function), and the DA councillor for the neighbouring ward, Simon Liell-Cock ... THE CITY IS CURRENTLY INVESTIGATING THE ACTIVITIES OF LIELL-COCK. HE OBJECTED AGAINST A CHARITY CONCERT IN A NEIGHBOURING WARD WHERE THE PROCEEDS CURRENTLY FEED ABOUT 200 KIDS IN HIS WARD.
LIELL-COCK ASSERTED THAT HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE CITY WOULD VISIT US AND THAT THE VENUE WOULD BE CLOSED DOWN. BUT HE HAS NO EXECUTIVE POWERS. IT IS NOT FOR HIM TO INSTRUCT HEALTH AND SAFETY. IT IS NOT FOR HIM TO SAY A VENUE WILL BE CLOSED DOWN. WE ARE NOT IN HIS WARD.
CASE LAW PRESCRIBES ONE SHOULD RECUSE ONESELF IF THERE IS A SUSPICION OF BIAS. WE BELIEVE LIELL-COCK IS BIASED [ AND MUST RECUSE HIMSELF FROM THE SPELUM COMMITTEE]. THE CITY IS INVESTIGATING THE MATTER.

And then, of course, some emotional blackmail: “You have played a major role in achieving that the Southern Peninsula will not have a hospital... Tonight when you lie in bed know that people are going to die because of you... Quo vadis Simon?” (This is a reference to the fact that Liell-Cock opposed – on traffic considerations – an application by Van der Spuy to build a private hospital). AGAIN THIS IS FACTUAL. LIELL-COCK’S DELAYING TACTICS CAUSED US TO LOSE A LICENCE FOR A 100 BED HOSPITAL WHICH WOULD HAVE EMPLOYED 200 PEOPLE LOCALLY. IT IS FACTUAL THAT THE PROBABILITY OF DEATH POST A TRAUMA EVENT (HEART ATTACK/ MOTOR CAR ACCIDENT/ETC) INCREASES EXPONENTIALLY WITH TIME TAKEN TO GET PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT. THERE ARE NO PROPER FACILITY IN THE SOUTHERN PENINSULA. LIELL-COCK WAS THE ONLY COUNCILLOR VOTING AGAINST THE APPLICATION. THE CHAIRMAN OF SPELUM REPRIMANDED HIM BECAUSE HE WAS ILL PREPARED AT THE MEETING. THE APPLICATION HAD NO OBJECTIONS FROM NEIGHBOURS OR THE RATEPAYERS ORGANISATION. IT WAS SUPPORTED BY THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE SOUTH PENINSULA SUB COUNCIL. THE HOSPITAL GROUP WHO WERE GOING TO DO THE HOSPITAL PULLED OUT BECAUSE OF THE EXPIRED LICENSE DUE TO LIELL-COCK'S ACTIONS AND THAT PEOPLE WILL DIE AS A RESULT OF LIELL-COCKS ACTIONS.


Van der Spuy told Noseweek that the gist of his response was very simple: the city’s officials are useless, corrupt, or both INCORRECT INTERPRETATION they take far too long to make decisions; AND AS A MATTER OF COURSE THE CITY IMPOSED LUDICROUS CONDITIONS WHICH EACH TIME GET OVERTURNED ON APPEAL He, as a businessman, cannot afford to wait for them to make their decisions, NOBODY CAN RUN AN EXPANDING BUSINESS IF ONE HAS TO WAIT 7 YEARS FOR A DECISION WHICH IN LAW SHOULD TAKE 7 MONTHS. which are invariably wrong and liable to be overturned on appeal.

It’s worth mentioning that Van der Spuy has a big issue with the fact that when it came to the originaL (ACTUALLY SECOND WINERY APPLICATION) for Cape Point Vineyards ON ANOTHER SITE various conditions were imposed. For example it could not be open to the publicTHERE IS NO WINERY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD WHERE THE GOVERNING BODY PRECLUDES VISITORS and the workforce could consist of no more than a winemaker and two others (seven during harvest time).THE DA CAMPAIGNS ON A CREATION OF JOBS TICKET. MEANWHILE THEIR COUNCIL MUST BE THE ONLY ONE IN THE WORLD WHO ATTEMS TO RESTRICT JOBS. THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF JOBS SPECIFIED WAS A FRACTION OF THE NUMBER WORKING ON THE SITE WHEN IT WAS AN OPERATIONAL MINE. IT ALSO HAD A CONDITION THAT WE HAD TO BUILT A SEWERAGE TANK WHICH COULD TAKE SEWERAGE “INDEFINITELY”. THEY DID NOT THINK MY QUESTION THAT WE REQUIRED THE DATE AT WHICH THE WORLD WOULD COME TO AN END TO DESIGN SUCH A TANK TO BE FUNNY l.

Van der Spuy then wrote to tell Noseweek of his previous dealings in the area, including the Serina Kaolin Mine at Chapman’s Peak and the charitable trust he founded to help the children of the Masiphumelele and Ocean View townships. I HAVE SUBMITTED A LETTER TO NOSEWEEK FROM THE VALLEY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT CERTIFYING THAT WE HAVE DONATED MORE THAN R2.7M FEEDING POOR CHILDREN IN THE AREA. OBVIOUSLY THIS DID NOT FIT INTO THE NOSEWEEK STORY.


But he was short on facts about the issue at hand. PLEASE GIVE DETAILS. THIS STATEMENT IS DEFAMATORY.

The question about insurance was ducked. I HAVE NO REASON TO DUCK IT. WE HAVE HAD INSURANCE ALL THE TIME. WE CAN SUBMIT PROOF IF SO REQUIRED.

As for those who have opposed his grand plans, Van der Spuy told us that they’re all corrupt, stupid or mad. I EMPHATICALLY DENY THAT I HAVE EVER SAID THAT Some examples:

City officials: “I believe city officials over an extended period of time have subverted due process, deliberately lied about our activities in various submissions, perpetrated fraud in one instance. These matters will fully be dealt with in ensuing litigation and I therefore at this stage do not wish to further elaborate on it.”OBVIOUSLY DEALS WITH THE OFFICIALS DEALING WITH MY APPLICATIONS. MS MICHELLE WALKER, THE MAIN OFFENDER, HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM BEING INVOLVED WITH ANY OF MY APPLICATIONS.

Councillor Simon Liell-Cock: “He is biased and generally does not know what he is talking about when he pronounces on our affairs at Spelum... He is a close friend to one of the objectors... and made it his business to interfere in our activities even though he is not our ward councillor.” CORRECT

Neag: “It is a lunatic fringe NGO... I have publicly called Glenn Ashton (one of the people behind the organisation) a compulsive liar and hypocrite (you are welcome to publish my comments as the truth can never be defamatory)… They are a bunch of jokers (actually Ashton previously depicted himself as a clown in the Neag website).”NOSEWEEK CHOSE NOT TO PUBLISH INFORMATION WHICH DETAILED ASHTON’S LIES AND HYPOCRISY.



Van der Spuy says: “I have unconditionally offered the bottom part of the property to the city for sub-economic housing. It is a disgrace that thousands of people are living below the waterline in Masiphumelele. I do not apologise for my offer.” THIS OFFER HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY APPLICATION, NOR DID I ENDEAVOUR TO DISSUADE PEOPLE FROM OBJECTING AGAINST ANYTHING WITH THE OFFER TO THE CITY

And do you add value to the DA, Mr Van der Spuy? “I have never made any donations to the DA.” AN EFFORT TO CAST SUSPICIONS WHERE I DO EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE.


The Slapp suit

Shortly before going to print, Van der Spuy employed his favoured strong-arm tactics once again,THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE SUED ANYONE IN NOORDHOEK. NEAG AND THE CONSERVANCY HAS TWICE SUED ME UNSUCCESSFULLY AS PART OF A COALITION. THEY COULD NOT PAY THE COST ORDER. NEAG HAS ALSO SUED THE FARM VILLAGE. ASHTON HAS LAID CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST ME REGARDING THE FIRST CHARITY CONCERT. A SPECIALIST FOUND THAT HE COULD NOT HEAR THE CONCERT FROM HIS HOUSE AND THE PROSECUTOR THREW OUT HIS COMPLAINT. THEY ARE THE LITIGATORS, NOT ME. this time effectively closing down the local ratepayers’ association, the Noordhoek Conservancy, a body of which he is a member.

Seemingly vexed by the fact that the conservancy wanted to change its constitution so as to exclude people who have outstanding issues with the City of Cape Town, and to ban proxy votes, Van der Spuy secured an interim interdict from the High Court in Cape Town on 3 March, blocking the holding of a Special General Meeting. I HAVE OBTAINED A RULE NISI BECAUSE THE CONSERVANCY IGNORES THEIR OWN CONSTITUTION. IT WAS THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW WHERE NON ELECTED PEOPLE WERE CO-OPTED ON THE COMMITTEE ( THE PREVIOUS YEAR THEY ACTUALLY CO-OPTED RORY SALES WHO WAS REJECTED WHEN HE STOOD FOR VICE-CHAIR – THINK HE GOT ONLY SIX VOTES


A letter sent to the association by Van der Spuy’s lawyers, prior to the court application made it very clear that he would be playing hard-ball. It said: “Should our client be forced into adopting such course of action [going to court] our client will seek an appropriate cost order as against the Conservancy as well as any member of the committee who involves himself or herself in opposing the relief sought.” THEY SAID THEY WILL DEFEND THEIR ACTIONS. WHEN PUSH CAME TO SHOVE, THEY RAN AWAY AND PULLED THE TENT DOWN WITH THEM. IT LEFT THE CONSERVANCY IN A CONSTITUTIONAL VACUUM WHERE A COURT ORDER IS REQUIRED TO RESUSCITATE IT, IE THEIR VIEW WAS THAT IF THEY CANT CONTINUE RUNNING IT IN A LAWLESS FASHION IT SHOULD BE CLOSED DOWN. THEREFORE THEIR STATEMENT:”THE END OF THE CONSERVANCY"

The Bully

Why are neighbours terrified?

On 2 December Van der Spuy had a lengthy telephone discussion with one of the people Noseweek has quoted anonymously. He persuaded her to withdraw comments she had posted on a website. She confirmed she had agreed to do so in an email the next day. Not good enough! THE ALTERCATION HAPPENED BECAUSE OF THE CHARITY CONCERT. SHE SAID IT WAS HER RIGHT OT SLEEP AT 21H00 AND THE POOR IS NOT HER PROBLEM. HER STATEMENTS ON POPULAR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES WERE DEFAMATORY ON HER OWN VERSION. THE DAMAGE HAD BEEN DONE. I SUGGESTED THAT SHE MAKE A DONATION TO THE FEEDING SCHEME IN LIEU OF THE DAMAGES SUFFERED. SHE SAID IT IS NOT HER RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOK AFTER THE POOR. I LEFT THE MATTER AS I DEEMED IT A WASTE OF TIME DEALING WITH SUCH A SELFISH PERSON.
 
Submitted by : Hardy Esterhuizen of Randburg on 2014-03-31 12:39:30
As the tired cliché goes, there are two sides to every story. Noseweek seems to be presenting only one side of it here. The vast majority of the neighbourhood surrounding Cape Point Vineyards enjoys the once weekly food market (which incidentally closes at that ungodly hour of 8:30pm and does not allow entrance to motorbikes, contrary to the complaints in the story). Further, I believe that the City of Cape Town has now granted full permission for these activities, so the information is out of date. We live in the immediate neighbourhood and have yet to meet a neighbour who has a problem with CPV, and who doesn't actually attend the market themselves in what has to be one of the most beautiful settings in the country. I urge anyone who happens to pass through the area to go and have a look at this "den of iniquity" and decide for yourself, because the chances are you will come away with the definite impression that anyone who wants to shut down this little slice of heaven must be a little bonkers.

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