British farm owner Harvey Boulter, who is trying to avoid being prosecuted over a fatal shooting at his Outjo district farm about two years ago, has dealth the lawsuit in which he is being sued for more than N$84 million by the widow and family of the man he is alleged to have killed a blow.
The family of the late Gerhard van Wyk, who died after he was shot in the abdomen at Boulter’s farm on 27 February 2021, suffered a setback in their damages claim against Boulter when their lawyers conceded last week that they would have to amend their claim in light of exceptions that Boulter raised against it.
Van Wyk’s widow, Alta van Wyk, his son, Gerhard van Wyk Jr, his daughter-in-law, Liani van Wyk, and daughter, Michelle van Wyk, in February last year launched a case in the Windhoek High Court in which they are suing Boulter and his company SX Investments One for a combined amount of close to N$84,5 million. Alta van Wyk, Gerhard van Wyk Jr and Liani van Wyk are claiming that as a result of the shooting that ended Van Wyk Sr’s life, they lost their employment with SX Investments One and the income they would have been receiving through this employment until they reach the age of retirement. All four plaintiffs are also claiming that they had no other source of support, income and maintenance than what they received from Van Wyk Sr and Boulter’s company.
They are suing Boulter and the company for an alleged loss of support and income and also for pain, suffering, emotional trauma and shock they say they experienced as a result of Van Wyk Sr’s death.
In the exceptions raised in response to the Van Wyks’ claim, Boulter and SX investments One said the claim was “vague and embarrassing” and mixed claims based on labour relationships with other claims. Boulter and the company also objected that the claim against them was not set out in such a way that they were able to assess the amounts for which they are being sued and the factual basis of the Van Wyks’ claim.
Having conceded the exceptions raised by Boulter and the company, the Van Wyks’ lawyers will have to amend their claim.
Judge Orben Sibeya on Thursday last week ordered the four plaintiffs to pay the legal costs of Boulter and his company in respect of the exceptions that were raised. Van Wyk Sr (54) died after he had been shot in the abdomen during an altercation with Boulter at the Outjo district farm Kaross, where Boulter is farming with game and Van Wyk Sr was employed as a manager.
The same bullet that struck Van Wyk also hit Boulter’s left hand.
Van Wyk died while being transported to Outjo for medical treatment. Boulter (53), who has said the shooting was accidental and that it took place when Van Wyk tried to grab a pistol from his hands, is charged with counts of murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence, and handling a firearm while under the influence of intoxicating liquor in connection with the incident.
His criminal case is pending in the Windhoek High Court, but he has in the meantime filed an application to have prosecutor general Martha Imalwa’s decision to arraign him on the four charges reviewed and set aside.
In his application, which was filed at the High Court in February this year, Boulter is claiming there was “no reasonable and probable cause” for Imalwa to decide to arraign him in connection with the shooting.
He is also alleging that Imalwa did not apply her mind to representations that his lawyers made to her when they requested her last year to review the decision to charge him and to withdraw the charges against him.
In an affidavit filed at the court, Boulter says from his version of events around the shooting it was clear he had no intention to shoot and kill any member of the Van Wyk family.
According to him, the police failed to investigate exactly what caused the firearm in his possession to go off, which he says is a crucial aspect of the matter.
He also says while the prosecutor general is not alleging that he intentionally shot himself in his left hand, she is alleging that he intentionally killed Van Wyk.
“The [prosecutor general’s] decision is not only absurd, but, in the legal context, plainly irrational,” he claims.
Boulter and SX Investments One are being represented by lawyers Sisa Namandje and Kadhila Amoomo, respectively.
Legal counsel Yoleta Campbell, instructed by the law firm Dentons in Johannesburg, is representing the Van Wyk family.