The case, in which two local banks, Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered, are demanding confirmation of provisional liquidation of Lobtrans PTY LTD and Lobatse Cash Store 1961 LTD for their indebtedness to them, has been postponed to April 3, 2008. The matter was initially set for February 22.
This follows an urgent application by Abdool Saned Asmal through his attorneys, Kamushinda Kaluzi Attorneys, on the one hand, objecting to the impending confirmation of provisional liquidation of his company Lobtrans, and another application by Rahim Khan, on behalf of former Lobtrans and Lobatse Cash Store workers, who sought the authority of the Court to appoint a certain Mr. Zinan from South Africa as their co-liquidator in the matter.
Reuben Kamushinda of Kamushinda Attorneys, said, “There is a general opinion that there are other options to explore, than liquidation, and thus our client’s instruction that we file opposing papers to oppose confirmation of provisional liquidation and therefore needed time to file opposing papers.”
Kamushinda said that they received instruction from Asmal in the afternoon of April 21, the day before the matter was to be heard. According to Kamushinda, April 3 was the earliest date the Court could avail, and was found suitable for all parties.
“Additionally,” said Kamushinda, “the former employees of the company also put it to the Court that they will require at least two weeks to file the relevant papers before the Court, so that in the final analysis a date that suited us all was identified as aforesaid.”
When approached for comment on his involvement in the Lobtrans affair, Rahim Khan, of Rahim Khan and Co. Attorneys, had this to say, “It is true we are representing former employees of Lobtrans and of Lobatse Cash Store in the case”.
However, Khan said that his firm is only acting as correspondents for a South African law company, Honey Attorneys, who will actually be acting on behalf of the employees.
“We have been instructed by the Botswana General and Commercial Workers Union and Botswana Beverage and Allied Workers Union, to intervene on behalf of their members who have lost their jobs, stand to loose their terminal benefits if the company’s assets are to be directed solely towards the settling of the banks’ entitlements. “Therefore, (we) have been instructed to file an application seeking the appointment of a co-liquidator, first, to assist the current liquidator, Mr. John Stevens or whoever shall have been elected in his stead, and second, and even more importantly, to represent the interests of our clients.”
Information passed to Sunday Standard indicates that at least 97 drivers who worked for Lobtrans are members of BGCWU, whilst 48 former employees of Lobatse Cash Store belonged to BBAWU.
Zinan is said to have extensive experience on matters of liquidation and related issues and will be assisted by colleagues from Honey Attorneys.
Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered Bank have, both through Armstrong’s Attorneys, arraigned Lobtrans before the Courts, with a view to having the company auctioned to disburse their costs emanating from unpaid loans in the tune to hundreds of millions. LOBTRANS When approached for comment in respect of the latest developments on the matter, Esther Norris, Head of Communications and Public Relations at Barclays Bank, had this to say, “Nothing has changed to move our position.”
Thabi Letsunyane, Head of Corporate Affairs at Standard Chartered quipped, “It’s not our business whether or not they are objecting to liquidation.”