Marina’s interests first in harbour

JON HOUZET

LEAKED minutes of the most recent Port Alfred Small Boat Harbour Company (SBHC) meeting reveal that the Royal Alfred Marina’s interests come first in harbour matters.

The minutes deal mainly with the lawsuit brought by the SBHC, harbour developer Pamcor and River Leisure Hotels against Stuart Boucher’s companies, the Royal Alfred Marina Club Hotel, Halyards Properties and Ndlambe municipality, over the validity of land transfers and lease agreements.

The applicants in the case also want to prevent Boucher building 30-35 units of sectional title apartments on erf 5203, arguing that the original intent for any development on the land was to supplement the existing accommodation capacity of the Halyards Hotel.

In the SBHC minutes dated August 21, marina developer and SBHC director Justin de Wet Steyn is minuted as having said “the harbour had to be run in the best interests of the marina and that is why the marina manager [Angus Schlemmer] also managed the harbour”.

The minutes further say: “The original intention was that Ramhoa [Royal Alfred Marina Homeowners Association] was to run the harbour.”

De Wet Steyn’s company Pamcor is the main leaseholder of the small boat harbour, but sublet the harbour land to Boucher in 1993, transferring all rights, responsibilities and obligations for managing the harbour to him. Boucher’s lease expires in 2028.

The SBHC was established as managing agent in 2005, but Boucher has never been a director of the company.

Boucher also attended the meeting on August 21, and is minuted as pointing out that the directors were employees and he was the employer.

“To emphasise his point he said he was the master and the directors, representing the harbour, his servants,” the minutes read.

The parties were close to a settlement, except for River Hotels, which did not agree to a settlement. But Pamcor and the SBHC ultimately rejected the settlement, in spite of what harbour consultant Derek Victor called “huge concessions” by Boucher.

According to the minutes, De Wet Steyn said he was “not in favour of weakening River Leisure Hotels’ case”.

In response to TotT’s queries, Schlemmer said minutes did not record every word /sentiment expressed in discussion.

“The marina and the harbour may be administered separately but form a harmonious whole when viewed from a tourism perspective in terms of attracting visitors and investors to Port Alfred and generating major revenue for local government,” he said.

“What benefits the one benefits the other and above all benefits the whole town.”

Schlemmer said “the questionarises” whether the terms and conditions in the original contract and notarial deed “have all beenfulfilled in the requisite manner or in the public’s interest”.

He also said the minutes had not been confirmed. When pressed if this meant the minutes might be changed, he would not elaborate.

Asked if he thought the minutes were a fair reflection of the meeting, Victor said: “Yes, in terms of what I heard.”

But he said Schlemmer omitted something important pertaining to him by suggesting Victor had a financial interest in the future activities of the harbour.

“I stated specifically that I would not take up the position for reward, and would in all likelihood not take it up at all due to my health.”

River Hotels referred TotT to their attorney Michael White, who did not respond.

Boucher was unavailable for comment.

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