Thursday, December 5, 2019

Gov’t reneges on P24M lawsuit settlement

The government has reconsidered their earlier decision to settle a P24 million gravel pit site lawsuit out of court. Earlier this year lawyers representing the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security expressed to the High Court their intention to settle the multimillion Pula lawsuit by local company Harso Surface Solutions (PTY) LTD out of Court before Justice Michael Leburu.

The Attorney Generals representing the Ministry together with Kgosietsile Ngakaagae representing the plaintiff (Harso Surface Solutions) announced the two parties had resolved to negotiate the matter outside the court. “Our client (Ministry) has considered the settlement proposal as submitted by your client and an assessment was carried out to determine the claims based on reports of work done.

Following thereof, our client is prepared to pay P315, 610.00 as reflected in the report which we have attached herein under,” the gov’t attorneys wrote. In addition to the 24 million Harso Surface Solutions had sought a refund of P322, 000 which the company says they spent on prospecting activities they had already commenced in the area.

The company had initially also sought compensation amounting to P24 million for loss of business due to the cancellation of their prospecting license. “Our Client is not prepared to compensate for loss of business based on the fact that a Prospecting license does not warrant any holder thereof the right to trade. Your client was merely a Prospecting Licence holder as opposed to a Mining License holder and that there is no evidence which informs the loss of business opportunities alleged,” the AG wrote.

Harso Surface Solutions are suing the Ministry of Minerals in relation to a cancelled burrow pit license subsequently awarded to a company with links to former Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) boss Isaac Kgosi, by then Minister Sadique Kebonang. The license for the gravel and sand mining site along the new Gaborone-Boatle dual carriageway road, initially awarded to Harso Surface Solutions, was rescinded by then Minister Kebonang ostensibly for the benefit of the Department of Roads. However, on July 24, 2017 the then Minister Kebonang wrote to the company notifying them of his intention to cancel the prospecting licenses.

Giving reasons for the cancellation, Kebonang said the area within which the company was granted the prospecting silences was needed for the mining of gravel that was to be used for the construction of the ongoing Gaborone-Boatle dual carriageway road.

Kebonang said he had made a mistake when granting the licenses and acted under wrong assumptions and misbelieve.

He said the Department of Roads had identified the burrow pits sites within the prospecting area that Harso Surface Solutions had already been given saying the Department of Roads had applied for the prospecting license for the same area since 2016.

According to court papers, after representations between the Minister and the company, Kebonang notified Harso Surface Solutions that he had taken a decision to amend the licenses of the company by expunging the original prospecting areas in order to enable the Department of Roads to use the gravel from the area.

The company were granted the rights to prospect for industrial minerals specifically gravel and sand on the 1st April 2017 by the then Minister of Mineral Resources. The rights were conferred by a way of prospecting license and issued in terms of section 16 of the mines and minerals Act.

However, on July 24, 2017 the then Minister Kebonang wrote to the company notifying them of his intention to cancel the prospecting licenses.

Giving reasons for the cancellation, Kebonang said the area within which the company was granted the prospecting silences was needed for the mining of gravel that was to be used for the construction of the ongoing Gaborone-Boate dual carriageway road.

Kebonang said he had made a mistake when granting the licenses and acted under wrong assumptions and misbelieve.

He said the Department of Roads had identified the burrow pits sites within the prospecting area that Harso Surface Solutions had already been given saying the Department of Roads had applied for the prospecting license for the same area since 2016.

According to court papers, after representations between the Minister and the company, Kebonang notified Harso Surface Solutions that he had taken a decision to amend the licenses of the company by expunging the original prospecting areas in order to enable the Department of Roads to use the gravel from the area. The case returns to the High Court following the Ministry’s failure to honor the settlement as had initially been agreed.

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