In the high court of south africa free state division, bloemfontein

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[9] The defendant’s evidence is that the farm Wetherun belonged the Lindsay and Helgaard Slabbert Trust (the Trust), and forms part of a bigger unit (comprising six other farms). He testified that he rented the farm since 1992 and bought it in 2002. He farms on the six other farms forming part of that unit of farms. It is not clear if the farm the defendant purchased is called Wetherun or if only the farmhouse, which is the subject matter of this case, bears that name. The parties throughout referred to the defendant’s farm, where he resides, as “Pandam”. Under cross-examination the defendant agreed that the role of the Trust was never mentioned or discussed. He also said that the Trust, to whom “the deed is registered”, was not involved in the agreement between him and the plaintiff. When asked why he referred to the farm and the property as his, his reply was “that’s how we talk”. It is therefore unclear who owns the farm on which Wetherun is situated, and what the defendant meant when he says he bought the farm after leasing it for ten years. It would appear, from his evidence that “deed” refers to the title deed relevant to the property.
[10] The connection between the defendant and the Trust, legally or otherwise, was not placed on record. It seems that the Trust’s ownership of the farm was mentioned to the plaintiff during the discussions regarding the transfer, to the defendant’s heirs, of the rights and obligations he acquired in terms of the agreement between him and the plaintiff . In his plea, he simply denied being unjustifiably enriched at the plaintiff’s expense, without elaborating. Plaintiff’s counsel, Mr Grewar, in his Heads of Argument, acknowledges the Trust’s ownership of the farm. If it is in fact so that the Trust owns the land, then it is the Trust which would be unjustifiably enriched by the improvements made by the plaintiff to the farmhouse Wetherun. The Trust is not a party to these proceedings. In my view, therefore, the plaintiff’s claim based on unjust enrichment against the defendant cannot be sustained.

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