The case in which a local company is suing the Ministry of Minerals for P24 million 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 is set to be heard next week.
According to information, the license for the lucrative gravel and sand mining site along the new Gaborone-Boatle dual carriageway road, initially awarded to Harso Surface Solutions, was rescinded by then Minister Sadique Kebonang ostensibly for the benefit of the Department of Roads only to be awarded to Bela Bela Quarries, a company co-owned by Kgosi’s wife Jennifer and Blackie Marole.
According to particulars of the case Harso Surface Solutions, represented by Kgosi Ngakaagae of Ngakaagae & Company, were granted the rights to prospect for industrial minerals specifically gravel and sand on the 1st April 2017 by then Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.
“The rights were conferred by a way of prospecting license and issued in terms of secton 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.
“Due to the unlawful and or alternatively wrongful decision of the defendant (Ministry) to rescind and amend the prospecting licenses of the plaintiff (Harso Surface Solutions), such act has adversely lowered the viability and value of the plaintiff’s prospecting licenses,” the company argues, adding “Considering the scale and amendments, the licenses will be of no negligible utility or value to the plaintiff.”
The company directors Tshiamo Rammusi and Tebogo Moseki feel their rights have been adversely affected and violated by the Minister’s decision.
“The decision has resulted in a direct loss in a sum of money with the defendant having injected as much as P322, 000 within the area they have been given prospecting rights on.”
The company had intended to sell the gravel to the constructors of the Gaborone-Boatle road and the greater Gaborone area. As a result of the cancellation Harso Surface Solutions argue they have lost business to the value of P24 million.
In their response the Ministry of Minerals argues that the company only held a prospecting license before the Minister expunged the burrow pits that had initially been identified by the Department of Roads.
“Unlike a minerals permit or mining license, a prospecting license only grants rights to conduct geological investigations. At that stage nobody is guaranteed acquisition of a minerals permit of mining license of rights.” The Ministry contends that a prospecting license is just one of the several requirements of acquiring a minerals permit or mining license. The Minister, according to the Ministry, acted within the law as it was within the public interest to have the licenses amended and or rescinded.
“The defendants deny liability to the plaintiff in damages in the amounts under claims or any amounts whatsoever, save for direct costs in the amount of P322, 000.00.”
The DIS led by Kgosi’s successor Peter Magosi raided the Bela Bela Quarries premises and conducted searches earlier this year.