A South African law firm representing Nike, an American multinational that manufactures footwear, apparel and, accessories, took the Nike slogan, “Just do it” to another level when it crossed into Botswana and confiscated counterfeit goods imported by Batswana traders from China.
The law firm, Adams and Adams law firm which represents Nike and Under Armour confiscated bails of clothing garments and footwear from Batswana traders who were arriving at Sir Seretse Khama airport from China
Batswana traders were made to sign a letter from Adams and Adams granting the South African police service, South African Revenue Service and the Department of Trade and Industry to enter into their premises in Botswana and seize the garments.
The legal firm also forced Batswana entrepreneurs to sign letter declaring that they will never import, distribute, market, sell or be in possession or control of counterfeit goods bearing the trademarks or confusingly similar trademarks.
Adams and Adams also coerced Batswana traders to agree to compensate the manufactures of the original goods, the law firm, SAPS, SARS and DTI the burden for delivering ÔÇôup and destruction of the unauthorised goods bearing the trade marks.
According to the documents, the South African company coerced BURS and Botswana Police to confiscate clothing garments and footwear that did not belong to Nike and Under Armour.
According to one of the letters from BURS titled “Customs and Excise Division Detention Notice” the taxman states that it confiscated shoes and clothing garment that the South African based law firm failed to confirm if indeed they were counterfeits.
The Botswana Police Service further charged the traders P2000 for trade infringement.
A University of Botswana lecturer, Dr Boga Manatsha said it was surprising that a South African company used documents purporting to be from SARS and SAPS to confiscate clothing garments in another country.
He stated that documents with foreign emblems were not supposed to have been used to confiscate the goods in Botswana.
Manatsha also wondered why a South African company was allowed to investigate whether the clothing garments were fake or not instead of Botswana Government officials.
Manatsha said there was selective justice when it comes to confiscating counterfeit clothing.
“Why can’t this operation be extended to Chinese shops. It should also include other goods as opposed to targeting the small man who is trying to make a living.”
Manatsha also feels that public education is lacking hence people consider buying goods in China.
Botswana Police Service, Assistant Commissioner , Dipheko Motube had promised to respond to the Sunday Standard questions but had not done so at time of going to press.
BURS, General Manager, Regions and Compliance Buhalo Mundongo would not be drawn into discussing the matter insisting he was in a meeting.
Meanwhile the Trade and Investment Ministry, Chief Public Relation Officer, Kaelo Kaelo who asked for a questionnaire to be sent to the ministry four weeks ago had not responded at the time of publication.