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PAIVA STOPS GUNSHOTS AT DU PONT’S FARM

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MBABANE –Popular businessman Carlos Paiva has been granted an interim order interdicting another top entrepreneur Henry du Pont from discharging firearms at his farm.

Judge Nkosinathi Maseko fixed the return date for the case to be February 17, 2023 wherein du Pont would have to show cause why the rule nisi should not be confirmed as a final order.
There was no appearance in court for the president of the Federation of Eswatini Business Community (FESBC). The judge noted his response to Paiva’s attorney Derrick Jele, to the fact that he would suspend the shooting practices in search for a suitable place away from his neighbour’s residences.

shooting ranger

Together with his wife Sonia, Carlos moved an application in the High Court, wherein he sought an order to stop and remove the shooting ranger at du Pont’s farm until there were agreed precautionary measures in place as neighbours. The second and third respondents in the case are the national commissioner of police and attorney general. The basis of the application was that the shooting range has not been approved by the relevant authorities and/or was disturbing the daily peace of mind of Paiva’s family, tenants, and dogs in his farm. In his application, he alleged that du Pont has, despite lawful demand, refused to remedy his complaint against the shooting range and its disturbing noise and that it was just unsafe. He said he was advised that he had a right to the peaceful and undisturbed enjoyment of his residential area within the farm. As a result, he told the court that the Tum’s Water World Hotel proprietor had no right to disturb his peace of mind in the enjoyment of his private residential area. This, he said, extended to his family, tenants, workers and domestic animals. He alleged that the situation was made worse by the fact that no steps had been taken by the president of the FESBC to suppress the disturbing noise despite his repeated requests to him in various text messages. Paiva said du Pont kept on saying that the issue would be dealt with by his unknown trainers and club members.

deeply regrettable

Paiva said it was deeply regrettable that he had to move the present application against his neighbour, but stated that this was his last resort as the facts would show. Giving an information background, Paiva said he resided at Portion 26 of farm Peebles Farm situate at Sidvokodvo in the Manzini Region with his family. He said his family comprised of his wife, daughters, their own children, his father-in-law aged 93, mother- in- law aged 92 and workers. He mentioned that the family has four dogs and about 60 cows. “We have also gueese, ducks, chickens, turkeys, and peacocks. We have two grandchildren - one is two years of age and the other one is 10 years. This is well known by the first respondent as he is our direct neighbour,” stated Paiva in the court application. He said he had had a good neighbourly relationship with du Pont although at times they had their own issues. He said they had fuel accounts with du Pont and also refered their guests to his restaurant and hotel. He said they also used his conference facilities. “I generally interact with the first respondent and personally, I do not have an issue with him apart from the present matter. I have tried my best to have it resolved and have failed dismally as it will appear below,” reads the court application.

lot of gunshots

He narrated that on or about December 18, 2022, there was a lot of gun-shots in the applicant’s house, about 80 metres from his residence. As a concerned neighbour, Paiva said he immediately called du Pont to find out if he was safe bearing in mind the current unstable political situation in the kingdom. He said he confirmed that he was safe. “I then asked the first respondent about the cause of the consistent very loud disturbing gunshots and he said to me that they are having a shooting practice in his ‘shooting range’ and I must come over,” he stated in the court papers. The businessman said he then asked him how he would have a shooting range within a residential area without having consulted the neighbours as he was not aware of same. He pointed out that the FESBC president then told him that he had the shooting range with the assistance of the police. He said he protested to him that having such a shooting range there disturbed his family’s peace of mind, resulted in dogs running away to hide in bushes. He said he had to fetch the dogs from the bushes after the shots had ended, adding that almost all their domesticated animals ran for cover as they were affected by the noise. He said du Pont was not bothered. Paiva said they established a Whatsapp business forum group at Sidvokodvo to which he immediately posted a message complaining about the noise that du Pont was causing.

shooting practice

He attached the message. It read: “When you have a shooting practice with guns next to neighbours, common decency is to inform them, my family and animals are traumatised and I find this totally distasteful, shooting ranges are registered with the consent of the community, I am not amused by this forum, station commander and community members”. He said he also sent the same message to du Pont at the same time with follow up messages attached marked ‘AA 2’. They read: “So my family and animals are traumatised because you choose to be inconsiderate, can you please put a stop to what you are doing and tell us how you plan to accommodate our animals. We are supposed to practise good neighbourliness and clearly you have no interest in this. I am clearly upset by your actions … My day is about running after and seeking refuge for my dogs and pacifying my family. Not on.” Paiva said du Pont could only say: “I will plan accordingly” and that was it. He said nothing has been done by him to date to suppress the disturbing noise that came from the shooting range.
“It unfortunately continues to disturb the peace of my family, the workers and my domesticated animals,” Paiva said.  He said the next episode was on January 9, 2023, when he received a message from du Pont that there would be a shooting practice on January 10, 2022 at 1000hrs to 1130 hrs. He said he replied the message as follows: “I am told that you can do whatever you want in your property, thanks for the notification but what do you propose I do to protect my dogs?”

protested against noise

“ I’m still not amused by this activity since you have put it close to my house we once jointly protested against noise from the block yard and they managed to put a buffer to suppress that, you need to do likewise and be considerate of your neighbours wellbeing, thanks again for the notification but we are still protesting” . Du Pont is alleged to have responded to Paiva’s message in this way: “Noted will plan with the team and I am sure we will find a solution”. To his great prejudice, Paiva said there was nothing that had been done up to date. He said the next episode was on January 14, 2023 at 0939 hours when he received a message from du Pont that there would be a shooting practice on January 15, 2023, starting at 0800 hours until 1130 hours. Paiva said he replied as follows: “As you know I continue to protest, you have not told me how you would be suppressing the noise and you have not addressed this yet, I believe good neighbourliness is not being addressed, I am truly disappointed, I will have to take this up, I am protesting”. Du Pont responded: “I did mention it will be addressed with the trainers and the club members sir”. He expressed disappointment this has not be done up to date.

shooting continued

“Despite my protest the shooting continued and my family and domesticated animals were deeply affected,” he said. He said he then called the Sidvokodvo Station Commander, Khanyakwezwe Mhlanga, to help him and his family. “I can state for the record that he has tried his best to engage the first respondent and he has failed. The station commander has told me that the first respondent told him that it is his property and he can do what he wants,” Paiva said. He said he had been advised that he was correct but his rights were not unlimited as he had to respect their rights as well as neighbours in the exercise of his. He said he then escalated the matter to the Manzini Regional Commander, Clement Sihlongonyane. He said Sihlongonyane had also failed to quickly stop the shooting range. He narrated to the court that the next episode was on January 20, 2023 when he received a message from him again that there would be a shooting practice on January 21, 2023 in his farm at 0800 hours until 1200 hours. He said he replied immediately and said to him: “And you are still not telling me about suppressing the noises, every time this activity takes place my family and my dogs are traumatised. I have spoken about good neighbourliness and you don’t respond other than promising, we are having a party tomorrow for my granddaughter and I am wondering what explanation I am supposed to make. This is not going well”. Du Pont allegedly responded: “Issue will be discussed tomorrow as it has been requested”.

live in fear

He said the shooting occurred and the guests, who were there in his (Paiva) property, had to live in fear of their lives and those of their children. As a result, he said the birthday party of his granddaughter was cut short. He said he felt embarrassed and humiliated in his own private residence. Paiva also mentioned that he was hoping that du Pont would then come up to him with a plan on how he and his team would suppress the noise that was disturbing him, his family and domestic animals. He said it was a pity he had not done so. “Last night at about 2300 hrs the first respondent sent me a message to the effect that tomorrow they will have the shooting practice between 0800 hrs to 1200 hours,” he said. He said he had to reply to du Pont’s message: “I continue to protest and clearly not amused. You are telling me that you are going to continue traumatising us and NOT ADDRESSING our concerns as you have said. Not amused.” He said it was the above message that had now led him to approach the court together with his wife. “We have failed on other alternative avenues to have the issue resolved. The court is now our last resort in order to protect the interest of my family and domesticated animals,” he sought relief. He said it appeared, with respect, that du Pont lived on an island of his own and had no total regard to the rights of others, especially his neighbours.

issue be resolved

“This is regrettable,” he decried. “It has been difficult for me to approach the court on such a matter as the first respondent is my neighbour and I was hopeful that he will come to the party and the issue be resolved.” He added: “As I have failed on the extra curial efforts to resolve the neighbour dispute, the courts should now come to our assistance and make definite findings as to who is right or wrong in the present matter.” He said he had a right enshrined in Section 14 (1) (c) of the Constitution – the protection of the privacy of his residence and property rights. He said du Pont had intentionally and persistently, despite protestation, interfered with the use of his private residence and property by establishing a shooting range just close to his house. He alleged that du Pont and and/or all those acting in concert with shoot a number of guns in the open for four hours straight. He said there was a disturbing noise that came out of the guns. He said it was like they were in a war zone.

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