An Information technology company is threatening to launch two law suits, one aimed at businessman and farmer, Monty Chiepe and another directed at the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) in a matter involving ‘unlawful’ confiscation of property and failure to honour agreements.
According to a demand letter shared with this publication, Noroc wants businessman, Monty Chiepe to explain why he seized several computers and related materials of the said Information Technology (IT) company, Noroc Technologies (Pty) Ltd, under unclear circumstances.
WeekendPost is informed that the businessman collected computers and other property “as evidence” from Noroc business premises at Phakalane on 16 April 2015.
As a result the company has engaged a Gaborone based lawyer, Joram Matomela of JJ Matomela Attorneys who intends to file an urgent application with the High Court to compel Chiepe to restore possession of the said properties to his client.
It is understood that Noroc Technologies (Pty) Ltd had been previously engaged by the ruling BDP to compile and analyse their membership databases. The BDP did not pay for the services rendered by the company and its proprietors sued, but later decided for an out of court settlement which never took off.
Indications are that the company accessed and associated itself with sensitive information pertaining to the BDP as their client – in particular relating to the party database and a certain report concerning the projected performance of the party in the 2014 general elections which was said to be standing at 43%.
It is understood that the BDP agreed to pay the said IT Company P1.2 million (including software worth P8.4 million) for providing the services before the General Elections – but they have not fulfilled the contract months after the elections. WeekendPost learnt that Noroc then instituted a court case against the party for failing to honour the arrangement while the party wanted to settle the matter outside court.
This publication has gathered that Matomela has already written a letter notifying one Monametsi Chiepe, who the court papers indicate that he claimed to be acting on behalf of the DIS, of the intention to sue over the confiscation of company computers and other materials.
“Take notice that your seizure of our client’s property has paralysed its operations and currently the company cannot function. In the premises we are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that before close of business today (22 April 2015), i.e. by 1700hrs you restore possession of the property you have seized to the client,” Matomela warned.
The attorney also asserted that, “in the event that you had not complied with the above demand, we hold instructions to apply on urgent basis to the High Court to compel you to restore possession of the said property to the client.”
At the time of the seizure of the said property it is understood that Chiepe had no legal authority in the form of a court order that entitled them to client’s property. “We do hereby advice that your actions as afore-stated are unlawful. The unlawfulness thereof arises from the fact that, firstly, you do not have a legal claim to the said property and secondly you had no legal instrument in the form of a court order entitling you to seize the property.”
WeekendPost team then visited Monty Chiepe at his farm on the outskirts of Gaborone. He rubbished the allegations leveled against him by the IT Company saying they are not true and devoid of accuracy.
He indicated that instead the company has violated some cybercrime laws and he will be taking the matter to the courts very soon – as he feels he has “a strong case against the company.”
While he admitted to seizing the computers from the company, Chiepe said the computers belonged to him and some other stuff was owned by the company of course.
The calm and collected Chiepe said he has collected evidence enough to convince the court to arbitrate in the matter.
He said whether the IT Company takes him to court or not, he will still pursue his own case against the company. He asked this publication to follow the matter at court with keen interest as the truth will be revealed and consequently the case may assist other Batswana in the war against cybercrimes.
Matomela’s letter indicates that Noroc directors are accused of ‘cloning’ Chiepe’s company, and the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) among others. The directors are alleged to have been threatened with jail.
It also states that Chiepe allegedly told the company directors to withdraw the case they had instituted against the BDP as well as withdraw from the police tender number DJS/MTC/POL:083/2014-2015. The tender which is worth P1 million and according to the letters passed to Chiepe, some BDP big shots had interest in the tender.
“The reason why the client is taking these threats serious is because prior to the seizure of the property complained of herein, there had been numerous threats and underhand tactics by various BDP officials to compel clients to retain what they seemed sensitive information on the BDP relating to its database and a report relating to the performance of the party in 2014 General Elections,” said the letter.
Meanwhile BDP Executive Secretary Sechele Sechele confirmed that the IT Company had wanted to do business with the BDP but the deal could not proceed due to their “high expectation of the deal.”
Noroc however claims to have worked with the BDP before – assisting with databases compilation as well as compiling and analyzing a prediction for the party towards 2014 General Elections.
“It’s true we have associated with the company but we could not engage them further as their expectations were too high and instead we opted for some other reasonable company,” said Sechele.
Sechele also confirmed that the Noroc had approached the court to sue the BDP on the matter. It is understood that the said Noroc dumped its lawyer along the way suspecting that he was working in cohorts with the BDP and instead engaged an alternative lawyer.
The Directors of the company are Temo Tau and Fredrick Mathiba. Noroc Technologies is a 100% citizen owned company specializing in software development.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.