Veteran sets out on own road after bitter land fight
The genteel aura of classic car clubs has been shattered in the Bay with a bitter battle over land and a car museum becoming embroiled in a disciplinary hearing and a resignation.
Bizarrely, the battle between veteran Eastern Province Veteran Car Club (EPVCC) member Eben de Vos and the club need never have happened – as the municipality turned down both parties’ applications to develop on the land.
The car war, which has been dragging on since the early 2000s, finally led to De Vos’s resignation.
De Vos, 70, who is well known in the city for running the St Croix Motor Museum, quit the club last month after almost 50 years of membership.
He plans to branch out on his own – with his own car club.
The land at the centre of the spat lies adjacent to the EPVCC’s clubhouse in Conyngham Road, Parsons Hill.
Both the EPVCC and De Vos want to buy the land from the municipality, De Vos to build a museum, and – according to a municipal application – the EPVCC for “accommodating vintage vehicles”.
De Vos owned the St Croix Motor Museum in Westview Drive until it was closed in December 2014, following the termination of his lease.
He said he had been eyeing the land in Conyngham Road since 1997, with his official application to purchase the land dating back to 2001.
He also claims the EPVCC made a similar application in 2004, though the municipality was unable to confirm the dates of either application.
According to De Vos, the two applications for the piece of land came up several times at EPVCC meetings, where he was vocal about opposing the club’s application.
The relationship soured further when De Vos was slapped with a notice to attend a disciplinary hearing, to be held on January 23.
The letter, which The Herald has seen, said formal complaints had been made by club members relating to De Vos “publicly and repeatedly [declaring] that [he] had opposed and would continue, for [his] own exclusive benefit, to oppose the declared interests of both the club and its members relating to the acquisition by the club of the municipal land adjacent to that of the club”.
The letter also stated that De Vos had been accused of acting “in a selfish manner in direct contravention of the general interests of the club and its members and by reason thereof should not be entitled to continue to enjoy the benefits of membership”.
Earlier this week, club chairman Llewellyn Faifer declined to comment on matters relating to De Vos.
However, De Vos said he resigned from the club shortly after receiving this letter, after which he decided to form the Eastern Cape Classic Car Club (ECCCC).
“I had the idea in the back of my head for a while and phoned a few people. Then 26 people showed up at the first meeting.”
Though all the club’s new members were at one stage involved in the EPVCC, De Vos said nobody would be required to resign from other clubs in order to join his club, which will be largely centred around social events.
“They can belong to any club they choose. I don’t want to ruffle feathers.”
As to the issue of land, neither the club nor De Vos has managed to stake a claim to the property.
Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki confirmed that both applications had been vetoed at a mayoral committee meeting in August last year.
“[The committee] resolved to refuse the application for the lease or sale and subdivision [of the land] in favour of either the St Croix Motor Museum or the EP Veteran Car Club,” Mniki said.
The item previously appeared in an agenda for a human settlements committee meeting in July 2017, where the committee recommended the applications be denied, as subdividing the property further would “compromise the potential and use thereof”, according to the agenda.
“The subdivision of the leased area will create access problems which makes the development thereof problematic.”