Thursday, March 8, 2012



 Following the launch of The TATIB Foundation in Stellenbosch in late 2009, a large number of residents from DeZalze Estate, Stellenbosch, contacted us for help with their exposure to the spray drift and potentially toxic residues of what was sprayed on the vineyards, olive & citrus trees and other ornamental trees and shrubs within the estate.


Allegations were also made, that Azinphos, a highly toxic organophosphate poison, developed as a result of  WWII,  had been sprayed on the olive and citrus trees that had been planted in and around the houses.

The TATIB Foundation investigated the issue and it was confirmed that Crown Landscaping, the contractor responsible for the maintenance of the estate and golf course, were also the company responsible for the application of agricultural chemicals [pesticides / fungicides / herbicides] onto the golfing greens, trees and shrubs within the estate. The Home Owners Association had also confirmed that Azinphos had indeed been sprayed, but undertook to cease all spraying of this deadly pesticide after we had notified them of how toxic it really was.

Azinphos has been classified as a Class 1B Highly Hazardous pesticide by the World Health Organisation and National Department of Agriculture. Its certainly not the type of pesticide that should be sprayed within a residential estate where the residents and their children will come into contact with its toxic residues.

The Product Labels and Material Safety Data Sheets for Azinphos are available  here :

Take note of the special WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS with regards to human exposure to this pesticide and the negative SIDE EFFECTS following exposure to this toxic and deadly organophosphate.

Following our investigation and subsequent "intervention "  with this issue in late 2009  & early 2010, the HOA decided to listen to our advice and implement some changes with regards the use of agricultural chemicals within the estate. They not only undertook to stop the use of Azinphos, but also to use less toxic alternatives on not only the ornamental trees and shrubs within the estate, but also on the vines.  In this regard they were advised, by the experts with whom they  had consulted, to use Oenosan a harmless natural organic compound, on the vines.  They also implemented a "Notification Programme"  whereby each and every resident would be notified, in writing in advance of any spraying.  This information was also published on the estates website prior to any spraying.

Assuming that the complaints and issues had been resolved, The TATIB Foundation stepped back and tackled other issues of concern.  That was until we  again started receiving a number of complaints, from a large number of concerned residents, in early March 2012.

The complainants forwarded to us, copies of  recent corresponnce received from the HOA,  in which it was stated that they had  stopped using the harmless Oenosan , and had reverted to using conventional agricultural chemicals & spraying methods  to control the diseased vines within the estate.

The HOA published a "Viticulture Notice"  on 07 March 2012 notifying the residents of the new changes . The notice can be found here :

It is interesting to note  that the HOA acknowledges the fact that the homeowners had complained and were concerned about the health hazards associated with conventional spraying and that because of this the HOA had decided to use Oenosan.  The HOA then goes on to state that the homeowners bought into the estate at a time when the vineyards already existed. In other words "the vines were here first and if you dont want to be poisoned then you should never have purchased a property within the estate"


Whether or not the farmer or the vines were there first is not relevant under South African law. If the vines and other plants are being sprayed in such a way that,  spray drift and residues of potentially toxic agricultural chemicals,  get blown into peoples houses and gardens, then  the law, in this case Act 36 of 1947 has been broken and the spraying is thus unlawful.

The recent complaints, by a large number of concerned residents, also included photographic evidence of the actual spraying process and it is evident that clouds of spray drift will result from the spraying as centrifugal "mist blowers" are being used. These are tractor pulled mechanical "torpedo" like devices that can deliver up to 8000 litres of product [depending on the size of the torpedo shaped tank] per hectare at a jet or nozzle speed of up to 600 km/h .  In other words these "mistblowers"  deliver a lot of product and discharge it at high nozzle speed, creating clouds of spray drift. They are designed to create "mist" and they do this extremely well.


We were also shown photographs of burnt faces and swollen eyes, indicating acute contact dermatitus secondary to exposure to agriculture chemicals. It is interesting to take note that Jurgen Schirmacher [our chairman] and his family had also experienced burnt faces, eyes and upper respiratory tracts following their exposure to the chemicals that were sprayed on the vineyards in Riebeek-Kasteel.


TATIB managed to get an "informal" list of the agricultural chemicals [pesticides / fungicides / herbicides] that had been sprayed within the estate, from some of the residents. We ran the active ingredients through several international toxicology organisations and can confirm that what has allegedly been sprayed will certainly have negative health effects for humans.  We managed to obtain SOME  of the statutory "Product Labels "  & "Material Safety Data Sheets"  of the supposedly "harmless" fungicides recently sprayed,  and took note of the special warnings and precautions clearly stated on them :
  • May be harmful if ingested, inhaled or by skin contact. 
  • Ingestion may cause gastroenteritis with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Systemic side effects may include ringing of the ears, dizziness, elevated blood pressure, blurred vision and tremors.
  • Inhalation may irritate the respiratory tract and cause symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, asthma, sore throat and runny nose, irritation of the nasal mucous membranes, sometimes of the pharynx and, on occasion, ulceration with perforation of the nasal septum.
  • If sufficient amounts are absorbed and inhaled, symptoms may resemble those for ingestion.
  • Skin contact will cause irritation with symptoms of redness, swelling, itching and pain, and also allergic contact dermatitis.
  • Eye contact will cause irritation, conjunctivitis, or even ulceration and turbidity of the cornea.
  • In more severe cases, there may be blood in vomit or black or tarry stools, jaundice and enlarged liver.
  • Blood cells may rupture resulting in circulatory collapse and shock.
  • There is a 21-day “Waiting Period” between spraying the product on wine grapes and then harvesting them. Failure to adhere to this withholding period may not be sufficient to meet export requirements when it comes to permitted residue levels.
  • Toxic to fish, bees and wildlife.
  • Keep out of reach of children, uninformed persons and animals.
  • Re-entry: Do not enter treated area, until spray drift has dried unless wearing protective clothing.
  • Do not spray over or allow drift to contaminate water or adjacent areas.
  • Do not inhale dust or spray mist.
  • Wear protective clothing, suitable face shield and rubber gloves.
  • Avoid drift of spray onto other crops, grazing, rivers, dams and areas not under treatment.
  • Soluble salts are corrosive to mucous membranes and the cornea.
  • Organic copper compounds are more absorbable and exhibit greater systemic toxicity than inorganic compounds.

In light of the information that we had received, and the potential hazards posed by exposure to these products, we contacted the HOA asking for answers. Copies of our correspondence to the HOA can be found here:

 We also received correspondence from Kobus Basson, the owner of Kleine Zalze whom we understand is also an attorney.  Copies of our correspondence can be found here :


We have made it very clear to all concerned that we would like the HOA to arrange a public meeting so that all affected parties could meet, in an open and transparent manner and look at ways of resolving the problem.  We further expressed our wishes that representatives from both the local and district municipalities should attend, together with representatives from the Dept of Agriculture, Provincial Administration and then also the media.


We heard no further response from the HOA following our email of 16 March 2012, in reaction to their email of 15 March 2012.  Our requests for details of what had been previously sprayed and what was being currently sprayed / would be sprayed were simply ignored. 


On 17th April we received a few emails from a DeZalze resident regarding recent spraying of some ornamental trees and shrubs, within the estate, by Crown Landscaping.


We contacted Leon Botes, General Manager of Crown Landscaping [ we only have his email address ] on 17 April 2012  asking him if he  and or Crown Landscaping was a Registered Pest Control Officer in terms of the PCO Regulations of 18/12/2009 and Act 36 of 1947.

The PCO Regs can be found here  :

The latest Pesticide  Management Policy can be found here :

Leon Botes, as expected, did not respond to our email of 17 April 2012 and so on 20 April 2012 we sent him another email .

Both emails can be found here :


In our email of 20 April 2012 we asked Leon to supply us with a list of all the agricultural chemicals that he  and or Crown Landscaping have sprayed, currently spray and plan to spray on the ornamental trees and shrubs in and around DeZalze. We also asked Leon to confirm whether or not he, or his business and or the person doing the spraying was a registered PCO in terms of Act 36 of 1947.

Leon Botes never responded to our emails of 17 & 20 April 2012, instead we received 2 emails from Patrick Holden of the HOA on 20 April 2012

Both emails can be found here :

Patrick Holden, in paragraph 2 of the above letter, makes mention of some "experimental spraying" conducted by Stellenbosch Municipality on 16 April 2012.


In the 3rd paragraph he states that  Mr Botes and Crown are not registered Pest Control Officers, but that all spraying [in the future ?] will be done under Act 36 of 1947  [so it's been unlawful to date?] and under the control and supervision of a Registered Pest Control Officer.

Holden then also goes on to state that they, the HOA, will in the future put up statutory notices and that they will comply fully with the Act [36 of 1947 ] . Is this an admission that previously, over all these years, they have not been complying with the terms and conditions of the abovementioned Act ?


We responded to Holden on the same day via return email asking him to  kindly furnish us with Crown's registered address /domicile where our attorneys may serve papers and also the contact details and names of the directors of Crown as we have been unable to find their details by doing a google search.
Holden replied to our email later on 20 April 2012 and stated  :


We wish to point out that we have to date not received any reply to our letter dated 15 March, in which we asked you, who you were acting for and what your mandate was . For the sake of transparency on your side, please furnish us with this information.
As soon as you advise us of who the complainants are, for whom you act in this matter, we shall favour you with a further response.

Our response to Holden, of 21 April 2012 can be found here.
[please excuse the tabs settings as the pdf converter has messed them up ]

There has been no response, as yet, from the above email


We have given the HOA 10 days, from today, to furnish us with the information that we have requested, failing which they will leave us no alternative but to make a PAIA Application under the Promotion of Access to Information  Act 20 of 2000, which will compel them to furnish us with this information by law.


If they have nothing to hide and truly "pride themselves on proper governance and transparency"  then they should really have no problem furnishing us all with the information that we have asked for.