Thursday, December 2, 2021

Young ‘Covid-19’ millionaire tenderpreneur sued P12 million by supplier

A young tenderpreneur who shot to fame recently over a reported P27 million government tender for the procurement of face masks faces a P12 million lawsuit for failure to pay his supplier. 

Reabetswe Barwabatsile faced public criticism earlier this year over what many in social media claimed were incredibly inflated prices for the face masks. 

Now his supplier Mbiganyi Butale through his company Core Technology, is suing Barwabatsile both in his personal capacity and as the director of Hutrex Group. 

Butale filed two claims of P10, 114, 800.00 and P2, 500, 000.00 with the Gaborone High Court this past week over Barwabatsile’s “failure” to honour an agreement for the supply of 870, 000 face masks.  

According to court papers the two met on February 25 this year when they concluded a written agreement for the supply and delivery of Medical Particulate Respirator Masks N95 Conscience Type IIR. 

In terms of the agreement Core Technology were to supply Hutrex Group with 870 000 Medical Particulate Masks N95 Conscience for the amount of P 16, 999, 800.00 (P16 million) including freight costs. 

In line with the agreement between the Parties, Court papers indicate, Butale produced a quotation for the supply and delivery of the masks for the benefit and approval of Barwabatsile. 

Following the approval Butale through his company proceeded to place an order for the 870, 000 Masks. 

“It is also at this instant that the plaintiff (Core Technology) incurred liability from the end supplier for a Credit Facility he obtained the Masks under, for end supply to the 1st Defendant (Hutrex Group). At the placement and confirmation of the order by the Plaintiff to the 1st Defendant, the Plaintiff was entitled to payment for the supply and delivery of the 870,000 Masks,” the court papers read. 

Barwabatsile’s company however paid an amount of P 6, 885, 000.00 only, being part payment for 450, 000 Masks and thus leaving a balance of payment for the remaining 420, 000 Masks with the outstanding amount in relation to the 450 000 Masks and freight costs standing at P 10, 114, 800.00. 

“The Plaintiff is embarrassed by the reasonof the fact that whilst it has ordered the Masks agreed upon and incurred liability to its end supplier, the 1st Defendant has failed to pay the amount of P 10, 114, 800.00 being for the balance of 420, 000 Masks, a portion of the 450 000 masks and freight costs. The failure by the 1st Defendant to pay the P 10, 114, 800.00amounts to a breach of the agreement entered into between the Parties. As a result, the 1st Defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the amount of P 10, 114, 800.00which amount is due and payable.”

In another claim Butale seeks the amount of P2, 5 million which amount being payment for the provision of services contemplated in the agreement for the supply and delivery of goods to Barwabatsile’s Hutrex Group.  

“The liability of the 1st Defendant accrued in favor of the plaintiff by virtue of an oral agreement between the 1st Defendant and the plaintiff. It was a term of the oral agreement between the Parties that the 1st Defendant shall after the Plaintiff has completed the orders pay to the Plaintiff the amount of P 2, 500, 000.00 being fees earned for work done. In the result, the 1st Defendant is indebted to the Plaintiff in the amount of P 2, 500, 000.00, the said amount is due and payable,” Butale says through his lawyer Kabo Motswagole of Motswagole & Company.

“Alternatively, to the above, the 2nd Defendant is personally liable to the plaintiff in the amount of P 2, 500, 000.00 being a part of the terms of an oral agreement between the 2nd Defendant and the plaintiff, in which the 2nd Defendant accepted his liability in the said amount to the plaintiff.” 

Barwabatsile faced criticism on social media following news of the tender over “inflated” prices and allegations of corruption and nepotism with unconfirmed reports implying he got the tender because of his father’s ties with a procurement officer working for the Covid-19 Task Force. 

He denied the allegations in a subsequent interview with The Midweek Sun newspaper. “We received an invitation to tender just like any other company. I think up to 38 companies responded to the tender. We were never directly appointed as some people have been saying. We competed with 38 other companies and won fair and square. We have been doing business for seven years now and always deliver,” he told the newspaper.

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