Thursday, September 24, 2020

BFA set to lose big on ‘Pio’ Paul case

An attempt for an out-of-court settlement in a feud between Botswana Football Association (BFA) and its former employee Keitumetse ‘Pio’ Paul has collapsed, leading to a court order summoning that finality of the matter will effect on the 24th August 2018.

After an alleged failure in the mediation proceedings between the two parties, it has emerged that failure by the BFA to honour court dates and to bring onboard their witnesses on the case will lead to a ruling on the matter.

Paul dragged the BFA to court in 2015 after reportedly being fired for addressing a press conference where he publicly grieved lack of support by the BFA. This came after a large majority of his key players were taken to the COSAFA Cup ahead of a crucial U-23 African qualifier match.

Sunday Standard has learnt that the BFA was hoping for the former BFA President Tebogo Sebego to be a star witness on the case but he is allegedly unwilling to come forth. One of the witnesses in the case was former BFA interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who is serving suspension at the Football Association.

“The predicament with the case at the moment is that Sebego is the President of Notwane Sporting club and is currently working with Paul who is Notwane technical team member. It is not easy for the BFA to lure Sebego to bear witness against his coach and it now seems a stalemate. Failure to convince Sebego to bear witness against Paul has led to the BFA twice failing to appear with a witness at court,” a source revealed to Sunday Standard.

With the continued absence of BFA witnesses at court, a statement from the court order dated 15th June 2018 read ‘’trial will proceed to finality without defence should defendant fail to secure witness on the case”.

While the BFA reportedly argues that Paul was never their employee, but a volunteer hence not paid severance benefits, it has since been reported that the well decorated coach had a contract with the association after the post was advertised with expectations.

Sunday Standard investigations have also unearthed that failure to settle out-of-court in the prolonged case has affected the cost of the case. “As it stands legal costs of the applicant have rocketed to an estimated P200 000 that is expected to be covered by the local football mother body if they lose the case,” a source told Sunday Standard.

Contacted for comment, Paul declined saying “the matter is ongoing at the court of law and there is nothing to say at the moment.”

For their part, the BFA said it is expecting the case to continue and will be expecting Sebego to be present as their witness during the case.

“Mr Sebego, who is one of the witnesses, had indicated that he would not be comfortable to give witness against Paul who is now in the employ of Notwane, a club which he (Sebego) is a president of. We then subpoenaed him and he will be available to give evidence at our next court appearance,” said BFA Public Relations Officer (PRO) Tumo Mpatane.

According to Mpatane, all witnesses in the matter who were cited at the commencement of the case had volunteered to do such and will have to be part of the case until its finalisation.

The BFA spokesperson also refuted allegations that the association had ‘absconded any court session.’

“Our attorneys have attended all the sessions as per court schedules,” he concluded.

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