Stellenbosch water wars end in tears 

What started as a common pursuit to cash in on the Cape Town water crisis a few years ago, has culminated with two business associates at each other’s throats in a multi-million rand boardroom brawl. 

The dispute has seen Linquenda Aqua seek the liquidation of Winelands in a messy fight. The boardroom drama has its roots in 2018 when Linquenda established a water-bottling plant in Stellenbosch, Western Cape. 

This was at a time when the broader Cape Town area faced severe water shortage, and was edging towards what was termed “day zero” when water supply would have dried up completely, Linquenda’s intention was to cash in on the water shortage by supplying water to meet the demand. 


The business venture was initially successful until it ran into financial headwinds. It is when it faced this cash crunch that Linquenda approached Winelands and its director Johan Buys, a major player in the water bottling industry. 

Buys is the chief executive of Oasis, one of South Africa’s largest water refill and beverage franchises. Linquenda told the Western Cape High Court that the agreement between it and Buys, was that Winelands would take control of its plant; a version denied by Buys and Winelands. 

However, Linquenda produced two written agreements entered into between the parties. The first was the equipment rental of machinery required to conduct the water bottling business on the property and the second one was lease agreement with an outfit called Kumani Beleggings, the landlord of Linquenda’s plant. 

The equipment rental agreement was concluded between Winelands and Linquenda. The reason Linquenda sought Winelands liquidation is because of the R1,2-million the latter owes it in equipment rental fees. 

After much back and forth, and payment not coming through, Linquenda decided to approach the Western Cape High Court, seeking Winelands’ liquidation. The court agreed with points raised by Linquenda and ordered the liquidation of Winelands. 

In its judgment the court noted that it was furthermore undisputed on the papers that in its business operations, Winelands had been incurring significant losses to a net tune of approximately R7,539-million. 


It further found that the company had as at June 2023 significant overdue payment of creditors who in some cases were unpaid by more than 90 days and that it had retrenched staff and that various movable assets had been attached. 

Acting judge Sheldon Magardie ruled that Winelands’ failure to pay its indebtedness to Linquenda has not been disputed genuinely and that there was proof of its inability to pay its debts. 

“On a conspectus of the evidence disclosed by the application papers, I am satisfied that Winelands cannot pay its debts as contemplated by section 345 of the [Companies] Act. A prima facie case has in my view been made out for the provisional liquidation of Winelands on the basis that it is commercially insolvent,” Magardie ruled. 

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