Schuette denies farm deal allegations

By Confidente Reporter

OHORONGO Cement managing director Hans-Wilhelm Schuette (53) has strongly denied acquiring a 2 420-hectare farm in Otavi district under questionable circumstances, saying the farm was sold in 1995 to another purchaser for N$362 935, and then sold in tranches to him from 2009 to 2013.  His attorney, Dr Meyer van den Berg of Koep & Partners, reiterated that neither his client, Schuette nor his wife had business dealings regarding the sale of the farm with the initial owner, 82-year-old Gert Hendrik van Rensburg.

“Neither our client nor his wife has ever been involved in any transaction with Mr Van Rensburg or any of his family, whether in respect of the farm in question or otherwise.”

The response comes after Confidente last week reported that Schuette was under police investigation over how he acquired the farm, said to be worth N$5 million.

Confidente also reported that Van Rensburg and his wife only learned this year that their prime farm in Otavi district that they had owned for several decades no longer belonged to them, but to Schuette and his wife.

It was further reported last week that documents reviewed by Confidente show that Schuette and his wife now own 50 percent each of Farm Vrede, following years of questionable transfers of the farm’s shares between lawyers and other officials since 1996 and eventually to the Schuettes.

Prosecution officials who spoke off the record last week said the findings of the police investigation thus far point to the likelihood of “a well-organised syndicate” involving lawyers and top officials in swindling indigenous local people, like Van Rensburg, out of their farms – at little or no cost.

Van den Berg, however, countered that on 7 July 1995, Van Rensburg had in fact signed a deed of sale whereby the farm was sold to a third party and not Schuette, which deed of sale the Confidente ha sight of. “A purchase price was paid in respect to the sale of the farm to Mr Van Rensburg, which amount was paid by the purchaser to the account of Mr Van Rensburg’s lawyers at the time, being Karuaihe & Conradie. Confirmation of the purchase price was received and accounted for by the attorneys of Mr Van Rensburg.”

He added that Schuette and his wife acquired the farm from third parties in tranches during 2009 to 2013 and only became sole owners of Farm Vrede during October 2013, more than 18 years after Van Rensburg sold the farm to a third party.

Van den Berg said he could not confirm whether his client was being probed over the matter. “We have not received any official correspondence or complaint from the police about the ownership of the farm,” he said.

A statement by one of the lawyers involved states that in 1997, Farm Vrede was sold by Van Rensburg to a firm owned by Guenther Hertz and was paid in full for it by that company.

“The selling price for the farm was N$382,556.75. This amount was paid into the trust account of Mr Van Rensburg’s lawyers Karuaihe & Conradie on 17 August 1997. The ownership of the farm was then transferred to Hertz Game Protection (Pty) Ltd. As a result of legal advice offered by these lawyers, the shareholding in Hertz Game Protection was 50 percent for Mr G. Hertz and 50 percent for Mr Van Rensburg. As Mr Van Rensburg had been paid in full for the farm and because of his personal indebtedness, he signed a share transfer form, making it possible for his shares to be transferred.

“These 50 percent were then transferred to Mr PF Koep. Mr Koep paid Mr Hertz for these shares. The name of that company was changed and was converted to a CC by name Olifantsspoor Mountain Safaris CC. After some time, Mr Koep sold his 50 percent interest to Mr Schutte and his wife. All of the above can be substantiated by documents. There is nothing sinister or dishonest about Mr Van Rensburg selling and being paid for the farm and the ownership of the farm being transferred in accordance with signed documents. It is thus wrong to allege that the farm was sold by Mr van Rensburg to Mr Schuette.”

The police, however, this week said their investigations into the initial sale of the farm are ongoing.