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Zebediela citrus estate fails to unseat management

Jan 21 2016 20:49
News24 correspondent

Polokwane - The North Gauteng High Court Polokwane Circuit Court on Thursday dismissed Zebediela Citrus' application to stop a strategic management company from running the multimillion rand citrus estate.

This comes after Bjwatladi Communal Property Association, beneficiaries of a land restitution programme, approached court to end ten years of business dealings, citing mismanagement.

However, Henley Property management, a company managing the estate, opposed the association’s application, arguing that it is not authorised to take legal action.

The managing company made a late, unprepared application when the court was scheduled to hear the association’s application, saying the constitution does not approve the disposal of business dealings.

“There is no position on how they intend to manage the business; this will affect each and every member of the community,” said Advocate Cedric Puckrin for Henley Group.

Members of the community approached the court to compel the group to stop running the estate's business affairs.

They complained that the company is mismanaging its farms and failed to deliver on the promise it made when it entered into the relationship.

Puckrin also argued that the decision to terminate the contract did not have beneficiaries' unanimous approval.

He said only a quarter of the beneficiaries endorsed the dissolution of the partnership with Henley Group.

“We don’t know whether others have approved by the majority or not even two thirds majority,” said Puckrin.

Judge President Ephraim Makgoba ruled against Henley Group's application, saying the applicant had not been not given time to prepare and the matter was urgent.

The applicants said they fear that if the company is removed, the company will deteriorate due to [school management].

Applicant’s counsel advocate Piet Louw said the marriage between the association and the strategic partner was broken.

Louw said the company's mismanagement has led to the estate being suspended for the export market.

He said the citrus products packaged by the company are not certified for the foreign market, which affects the beneficiaries' profit.

The court will hear the application on Friday.

Makgoba said the application to oppose the association's legal standing would be fairly entertained if it was presented properly.

He said the application was not made under the rule of law and “leaves much to be desired”.

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