Court to rule on yacht club future

The fate of the Algoa Bay Yacht Club, which has been a city landmark for many years, now lies in legal hands

Staff and members of the beleaguered Algoa Bay Yacht Club will know their fate on Friday after the club went to court in an effort to prevent it from being booted out of the harbour.

Legal teams for both the club and Transnet butted heads in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday following an application on behalf of the club to prevent the execution of an eviction notice.

An almost four-year legal battle between the 60-year-old institution and Transnet led to the club being presented with a notice of eviction last week.

Club commodore and chairman Alan Straton said if the court ruled in favour of Transnet, it would spell the end of the sailing fraternity in the Bay.

“Without the yacht club in the harbour, what options would be available to boating enthusiasts in Port Elizabeth?” Straton asked.

Port Elizabeth port manager Rajesh Dana has said the National Ports Authority had to comply with stringent governance processes when it came to managing leases.

Yesterday, advocate Albert Beyleveld SC, for the club, told the court that although a draft court order issued in August did not specifically allow the club to continue occupying the premises on a month-to-month basis after month-end, an agreement between both parties concluded this.

In the draft order – seen by Weekend Post – specific mention is made that if Transnet did not find an alternative tenant through a tender process, the club could continue leasing the land until a suitable occupant was found.

Following this, both parties would give a two-month notice period should alternative occupants be found.

“It is clear no tender has yet been awarded,” Beyleveld said.

But Transnet legal representative Lisa Ntsepe insisted that the clause contained in the draft order was not included in a court order obtained to evict the club based on lease agreements being infringed.

Ntsepe denied there were any agreements entered into between the parties.

Beyleveld argued that if the court found in favour of Transnet it would “effectively signal the death knell of the organisation”.

In 2014, the club was taken to court by Transnet, who claimed it owed nearly R2-million in overdue rental as the amount it had been paying was not market-related.

It also wanted the club to fork out more than R49 000 a month for rent – which it has been paying ever since. The court will make its ruling on Friday.

Meanwhile, the matter of who has jurisdiction over the land the club occupies has been referred to the Ports Regulator.

That matter will be heard on March 23 in Durban.

Straton said he was happy there was some form of finality to come in the week ahead.

“We have always extended a hand of friendship to Transnet. All we want to do is give – give to the sport and to the city,” he said.

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