A South African poultry organisation that proclaims to protect the interests of producers and suppliers across the country is now accused by farmers of “scamming” them out of money.
Two poultry farmers contacted Food For Mzansi, accusing the South African Poultry Farmer’s and Supplier’s Association (SAPFSA) of receiving thousands of rand for goods and services it never delivered. The organisation refutes the claims, which it has since referred to its attorneys for moderation.
Roelien du Toit, a poultry farmer from Delmas in Mpumalanga, says she has paid more than R40 000 for equipment never delivered and services never rendered.
Du Toit had used all of her savings to start a poultry and hatchery business which, she tells Food For Mzansi, would help her pay her daughter’s medical bills.
When she joined SAPFSA in February 2021, she was liable for a joining fee of R3 800. The joining fee – according to SAPFSA’s website – includes the membership benefit of a business plan. Du Toit alleges that, after enquiring about getting her business plan drafted in February, she only received excuses.
“Every time they were supposed to send me the answers back, they would say their email was down or something was wrong, but they never answered my questionnaire.”Roelien du Toit
Du Toit’s next payment was for legal assistance when she had trouble getting a tenant of hers evicted. “I sent [Jay Venter, spokesperson] an additional R3 000 so that his lawyer could evict the tenant, since part of the association’s mandate is to provide legal advice to clients at an additional fee.”
Du Toit says she was never assisted with her court battle, and was forced to rope in alternative lawyers to fight her case for her. “I asked for a refund from Jay after that incident but up until today he hasn’t refunded me. All he does is make excuses.”
Her last payment was on 5 August 2021, when she paid R40 000 for equipment to Venter, who agreed that Du Toit’s order would be delivered to her in Delmas. Du Toit was informed that the equipment would be coming from Uvongo near Margate in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Jay would tell me the truck is on the way and would [arrive at a certain time]. I would ask the workers [to] stay and everybody would wait for them [but] then the truck wouldn’t pitch. The next morning when I [call] he would tell me the truck broke, or [some other excuse],” Du Toit explains.
This carried on for the month of August, she claims, adding that Venter eventually told her that the equipment was at SAPFSA’s farm in Muldersdrift, Gauteng and that she could collect it.
“I said okay, send me the location so I can organise a truck and go and fetch it. Then he came back to me and said no, he is not from the area so he doesn’t know exactly where the farm is so he can’t give me a location.”
Du Toit says that Venter promised that he would find out and send the exact the location, but nothing came from it. “Up until today he has not sent the location,” she says.
Three months later, Du Toit is still waiting. She has since requested that she be reimbursed the full amount.
SAPFSA denies allegations
Venter denies Du Toit’s allegations against him and the association. He tells Food For Mzansi that the reason why SAPFSA did not provide Du Toit with the business plan, was because she has been unable to furnish them with relevant information.
“We have had our consultants over at her farm several times, which we have proof for. Roelien can’t furnish us with any figures because she does not have past business experience. So, we have to generate information from scratch, which [takes] not just one day. We don’t just work with one person,” Venter says.
Regarding the legal advice, Venter admits that Du Toit paid an additional fee of about R2 800. He says she failed, however, to provide them with affidavits within their ten-day waiting period so they could continue with the case.
“We advised her until such a point that we needed affidavits from her. We did not get affidavits from her. Then she told us her attorneys are busy with the case. The next thing we heard, she went to go repossess the property. Then we never heard from this story again up until last week when she needed money and asked for a refund.”
Venter tells Food For Mzansi that SAPFSA has since arranged to give Du Toit a refund later this week.
He further says the only reason why they have not delivered Du Toit’s equipment to her is because she never paid a transportation fee. “She needed to pay the transporter R15 500, and she didn’t. So, the transporter is holding on to the equipment.
“We are selling the equipment and giving Roelien the money that she asked for. We have found a buyer, but we are in the process of negotiating a price. She could get her money within the next two to three days.”
Another farmer’s complaint
A second farmer, Johan Vorster from Pretoria, has also contacted Food For Mzansi and cautioned against using or working with SAPFSA.
Vorster says that on 18 August 2021 he ordered 22 000 chicks from SAPFSA, which were to be delivered to him. To this day, the delivery has not yet been made.
After weeks of “begging” for the chicks, Vorster says, he asked SAPFSA if it would be easier for them to supply him with fertilised eggs, to which Venter replied yes.
“After weeks of begging, I requested a refund and he said that he would only be able to do the refund once he had sold the 80 boxes of fertilised eggs to his Zimbabwean client. This did not happen, and he promised me that the eggs were in Pretoria and on their way to me.”
After another week of waiting for the delivery to happen, Vorster took to social media to post about his ordeal.
Vorster added to his initial post that he was subsequently partially refunded by SAPFSA, and says that SAPFSA has now informed him that they were waiting for grant money in order to refund him. This, as the farm where they source the eggs did not want to do a refund.
“The association is an NGO which is there to look after poultry farmers and suppliers to ensure that there is no scamming and bad business ethics. But it feels [like] SAPFSA are the scammers who are costing me my customers and my livelihood. I am truly frustrated at the lack of transparency, honesty, support and communication from everyone at SAPFSA,” Vorster says.
Chick and egg shortages causing supply problems
In response, Venter says, “This is an internal problem. If you know what is currently going on in the broiler industry… we’ve got a shortage of day-olds, we’ve got a shortage of fertile eggs and Johan is very well aware of this. There is still a certain amount outstanding, but we have refunded Johan and we’ve got all our proof of payments and we’ve got all our conversations.
“Johan Vorster is a standing client. He has purchased from us and he was very happy with his stock he has received from us before. If you know anything about the poultry industry and if you know what is going on in the broiler industry, you would understand 100%. When we place orders, we need to pay full orders, or else we are not guaranteed the stock. We are currently 1.4 million chicks short in the industry per week. Once we’ve paid for stock and we don’t receive it, the farms don’t give us cash refunds. We get credited.”
He adds that the matter will be handed over to SAPFSA’s attorneys for moderation.
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