Founding Chief Executive Officer of Choppies Enterprises who is also serving suspension from his duties –Ramchandran (Ram) Ottapathu triumphed against the retailer’s board of directors at the Industrial Court in the capital Gaborone on Friday.
Ram took the Choppies board to Court on urgent basis after it made an attempt to have him attend what he calls a “rushed disciplinary” hearing.
The suspended CEO was due to appear for the hearing on Friday in Sandton, Johannesburg before Advocate NA Cassim SC based in South Africa.
He told Sunday Standard that after an attempt by the board to rush his disciplinary hearing, he notified the Industrial Court which ultimately agreed with him on Friday that he needed time to prepare for the hearing.
According to Ram, there was no ample time for him and his witness to prepare for the pending disciplinary hearing as they were only told about it on Tuesday and was slated for three days later being Friday.
“I got a letter from the lawyers which stated that I must appear for disciplinary hearing on Friday. I told them that I need atleast two weeks to prepare as some of my witnesses are outside the country and logistically it would be impossible to get them to South Africa by Friday where the hearing was to be held”, Ram said.
After realising that board was insisting on the Friday date Ram says he then took the matter to the Industrial Court which ruled in his favour.
“I took the matter to the industrial court which said I should be given adequate time”
The disciplinary hearing has since now been postponed to mid September which is after the much anticipated Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of Choppies shareholders that will be held on 4 September 2019. The EGM is expected to amongst other things look at the legal and forensic reports into Choppies by auditors and law experts.
Commenting on the legal and forensic reports, Ram declared them as unfair and biased – as they appear to have been designed to embarrass him rather than informing shareholders. The findings of the legal report were summarised and circulated to shareholders via Botswana’s X-News and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange News Service (SENS.
Ram noted that the legal report’s analysis largely clears him and his conduct, but its conclusions drawn by, Desai Law Group condemns him.
“Regrettably there was no attempt by DLG to present a fair and unbiased account in its legal report. Both the Legal Report and its summary present a skewed version of events on incorrect assumptions and are flawed. I caution shareholders not to accept the report at face value,” Ram said.
Meanwhile Ram said that he is confident that he has sufficient number of shareholders who could back him at the upcoming EGM. At the failed June EGM Ram says he had 63 percent of shareholders backing him up.
“The board then went behind my back and convinced one of the shareholders to withdraw the support”.