Residents of the sleepy village of Witvlei will have to wait a bit longer before the Witvlei abattoir can re-open its doors for business, board chairperson Sidney Martin said yesterday.
Martin told New Era there are still a lot of issues to be resolved before the company can commence operations: “I cannot tell you the exact date, but we still have a lot to do. It can be this year, it can be next year, I don’t know. There are still a lot of things to be done.”
According to Martin the company still has to gain access to the buildings and, therefore, they do not yet know the condition of the equipment at the premises. “We don’t know the condition of the refrigerators in the building, plus the level of many other equipment,” he said.
Apart from that, he said, veterinary services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry have to inspect the place and determine whether it still meets the international standards before it can re-open. “It is still a long way to go,” he said.
Agribank financed the construction of the Witvlei abattoir by a company, called !Uri Khubis, to the tune of N$60 million in 2003. The company failed to acquire European Union (EU) standard certification to enable it to export beef to the EU. In 2004 Uri Khubis was placed under liquidation and Agribank then bought the abattoir for N$11 million.
In August 2006 Agribank entered into a lease agreement with Witvlei Meat for the latter to lease the abattoir for two years. The two parties have subsequently been entangled in court disputes over the ownership of and right to access the property.
High Court Judge Collins Parker earlier this month ordered Agribank to restore Witvlei Meat’s possession of the abattoir by no later than May 12. Witvlei Meat had been renting from the agricultural bank since August 2006.
Parker also authorised the deputy sheriff of the High Court for the Gobabis District to do whatever is necessary – including breaking open locks barring access to the abattoir – to restore the company’s possession of the property.
Yesterday Martin pointed out that they are still to receive the keys to the property from Agribank, saying the bank is delaying the process on purpose.