Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) knowingly exported beef consignment to the European containing banned substances, court papers filed before Lobatse High Court’s Justice Abednigo Tafa have revealed.
This emerged in case in which livestock producers and feedlot owners Feedmaster have taken the BMC and the Department of Veterinary Services to court after they sold BMC cattle whose meat was recalled from European Union (EU) in 2012 as it was later found to contain banned antibiotics called salinomycin. The antibiotic enhances fast growth of animal.
BMC is cited as the First Defendant, Botswana Government as the Second Defendant while the Attorney General is the Third Defendant.
In its replying affidavit, BMC states that its witnesses will testify that the “BMC feedlots used salinomycin and monensin in their pre-mixes after the EU ban up until Botswana ban, as the BMC was not aware, at the time of the EU ban and its implications.”
According to BMC, its witness, Dr Stephen Ghanie “will testify that indeed BMC utilised salinomycin and monensin in their pre-mixes and up until Botswana ban.”
BMC also states that its witnesses will testify that Feed Masters knew, alternatively ought reasonably to have known that it was acting contrary against the law in both the EU and Botswana by using excessively high levels of salinomycin in the pre-mix manufactured specifically for FeedMaster.
“The First Defendant admits that prior to the ban, the use of ionosphores (including salinomycin) in livestock feed was common practice throughout the Botswana livestock producing industry. The First Defendant admits that prior to the ban, its own feedlots used ionosphores including (including salinomycin) in its livestock feed,” said BMC.
BMC says that its witnesses will also testify that Feedmaster ought to have known about both the EU ban as it was informed of it by Dr Shaun Morris in 2008 and the subsequently Botswana ban.
The beef exporting parastatal says that Feed master’s managing director Roger Smith was informed of the EU ban during or about 2008.
“ Dr Morris (employed by Feedmaster as veterinary specialist and Mr Geef (who was employed by BMC or its feedlots as an animal nutritionist appointed to formulate animal mixes for cattle) informed Feedmaster, alternatively ought to have informed Feedmaster, of the EU ban and risks associated with continued use of salinomycin in cattle destined for slaughter to the EU market,” says BMC.
BMC is being sued by Feedmaster for a debt due by BMC to the former and damages as result of an alleged breach by the BMC of its contractual duties.
In the first claim, Feedmaster demands that BMC pays the sum of P3,263,639.50 plus 10 % interest. The livestock feed producing company states that during or about August 2012 and in accordance with trade usage, duly represented by Jonathan Smith, sold and delivered 522 head of cattle to BMC for the sum of P3,326,639,50.
Feedmaster reveals that despite demand and despite BMC having accepted that it is liable to Feedmaster in the said amount, the defendant alleges that it has a counterclaim), BMC has failed and neglected to pay the said amount.
In the second claim, Feedmaster is demanding P5 606 640, P1 500 000 and interest rate of 10% from BMC. The company states that in accordance with the trade usage, it attended at the BMC premises on 29th October 2012 and applied for quota allocation for 5500 head of cattle for November and to 19 December; as usual there was no discussion concerning price because of the published applicable price structure.
“The quota allocations were dully granted for 3090 head for November and further application was made for 2410 for December demonstrating that the Defendant had capacity to purchase and slaughter the cattle offered to it for sale,” states Feedmaster
In breach of its duties, Feedmaster states, BMC through its Manager of Cattle Procurement, Clive Marshall, telephoned Feedmaster, represented by Smith and advised the latter that the quota had been cancelled.
It has since emerged that the reason proffered for such cancellation was that Feedmaster had not agreed to a settlement proposal for an earlier dispute through its Attorneys Collins and Newman Company which proposal was not acceptable to Feedmaster which the livestock feed producer regarded as extortionate.
In order to mitigate further damages which would arise if the livestock offered to the BMC as not slaughtered at the appropriate time, before December 2012, because of it becoming too fat and beef produced thereof being downgraded as well, the ongoing feeding costs, BMC has and will continue to sell its livestock for prices below those that would apply in terms of the applicable price structure.
As at the close of business on Friday 9 November 2012, BMC has suffered damages in the amount of approximately P285 600, being the difference between the price per kilogram which Feedmaster would have obtained if BMC had not breached its obligations and paid in terms of the applicable price structure and the amount it has now obtained by selling in mitigation of its damages.
Masterfeed is represented by Armstrong Attorneys.