Agribank defies court order on Witvlei Meat

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Ngaevarue Katjangua

Windhoek-Despite a court order issued in April last year requiring the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) to restore Witvlei Meat’s possession of the abattoir at Witvlei, Agribank still holds the keys to the premises and has not allowed the beef export company access.

In a telephonic interview yesterday, Sydney Martin, the owner of Witvlei Meat confirmed that the abattoir was still not in operation, as Agribank remains in possession of the keys.

A year has passed since then acting Judge Collins Parker ordered Agribank to restore Witvlei Meat’s possession of the abattoir – which the company had been renting from the bank since August 2006 – by no later than May 12, 2016.

Martin says they are still in ongoing discussions though with Agribank over access to the abattoir.

“Witvlei Meat is still closed, because Agribank is in possession of the keys. We are currently in an ongoing discussion with Agribank concerning this and I should be getting the final decision from Agribank later today, which will determine the way forward for the company,” he said.

It is understood the company still had employees and security guards stationed at the abattoir when they were chased away by the deputy sheriff, acting on Agribank’s instructions, who also removed the locks that Witvlei Meat had put in place at the abattoir and replaced them with new ones.

Agribank claimed that Witvlei Meat, which apparently temporarily closed the abattoir at the end of 2014, abandoned the property on June 26 last year and that the bank was entitled to take possession and occupation of the abattoir on August 5.

The judgment in Witvlei Meat’s favour authorised the deputy sheriff of the High Court for Gobabis District to do anything necessary – including breaking the locks barring access to the abattoir – to restore the company’s possession of the property and ordered the bank to pay 80 percent of the legal costs of Witvlei Meat, which had sued for access.

Gobabis Deputy Sheriff Cornelius Kauami, however, said he was not aware of any such court verdict and thereof did not act on it. Agribank spokesperson Roni Muranda briefly responded yesterday, saying he would first have to consult more widely before releasing a statement on the issue.

Chairperson of Agribank board Tertu Uuyuni said she was not mandated to respond to questions regarding the disputed abattoir and referred to chief executive officer Sakaria Nghikembua, who could also not be reached. The CEO was said to be in a board meeting for most of the day.

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