Monday, August 9, 2010

Verwoerd's grandchild in mineral rights row

09 August 2010, 10:08
The granddaughter of former prime minister, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, will have to answer to the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday regarding claims by a family that she signed their mineral rights over to a company she had an interest in.

Businessman Jan Vermeulen and several other people - all family members who inherited the title deeds to farms called Zandrivierpoort in the North West - turned to court as they feel they have been done in by Anna Maria Laas, a director of the Pretoria law firm Laas Doman Attorneys Inc.

Laas indicated in court documents she was going to defend the court action, but attorney Konrad Róntgen, acting for the applicants, said they have not yet seen her opposing affidavit as it was not filed.

Vermeulen said he and the other applicants - known as the Zandri-vierpoort Group - were entitled to claim the mineral rights and to apply for New Order Mineral Prospecting Rights to the properties.

Friends had advised him to seek the legal services of Laas, as he was told she was an expert in this field.

She accepted their mandate in 2002 and told him she had the expertise to help them obtain registration so they could become lawfully entitled to prospect for minerals on the farm, he said. This was for platinum and chrome, said to be in abundance in that area.

"I knew that these rights were valuable and therefore we sought the protection of attorney Laas. We were lay people and relied solely on her honesty and advice as she repeatedly assured us that she was well able to handle our mandate.

"She said she would not only see to it that we received title to what we requested and to which we were entitled, but would also endeavour to seek a prospective purchaser for our group for such mineral rights... to the maximum benefit of us," said Vermeulen.

Setting up a company was discussed in which all the members would become shareholders. All this time Laas assured him their rights had been fully secured and they "have nothing to worry about".

Things dragged on, but Laas told them to be patient as matters were progressing well, he said.

"Relying on her assurances, we allowed her to continue acting for us but with the passage of years and nothing positive having come about, we decided to request her to put in writing as to what our position regarding the mineral rights were."

Vermeulen said he was then advised by someone that the group should make firm enquiries as to their mineral rights, as there were suspicions that the attorney in another similar matter benefited "to the prejudice of some".

The group consulted their current lawyer, who was instructed to obtain a report from Laas on the matter, which was never received.

Vermeulen said he saw a letter dated March 2008 and it appeared the company, Bakubung Minerals Ltd, had become the registered holder to their (the group's) mineral rights. Bakubung, he said, is according to the letter, a subsidiary of Wesizwe Platinum Ltd.

"It said Laas was at all material times a shareholder and director of Bakubung." Vermeulen said she also held a directorship in the company Wesizwe.

"The company or related company now claim to hold the mineral rights to which I and the other applicants are entitled to and which (Laas) had to handle on our behalf."

He said the applicants never gave Laas the mandate to dispose of their rights without their consent.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Pretoria News on August 09, 2010

The Star

Comments by Sonny

What's new to members of the Verwoerd family?

Many of them were not "AFRIKANER PURITANS!"

They have taken South Africans for a ride for decades now!


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