Rat race to ‘catch’ Boseto

Former workers of Boseto Mine consulting with their attorney Moses Kadye at Lobatse High Court yesterday. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Former workers of Boseto Mine consulting with their attorney Moses Kadye at Lobatse High Court yesterday. PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

LOBATSE: Botswana Mine Workers Union (BMWU) case against Discovery Metals Limited (DML) hit brick wall yesterday when the union found that there is a stiff competitor pursuing the latter’s property.

The Union representing the 246 mineworkers who were fired from Boseto Mine in February 2015, withdrew the case after discovering that Standard Chartered Bank had filed a petition with the court for the company liquidation.

The workers had filed an urgent application before Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa of Lobatse High Court for the company assets to be seized pending trial.

The workers’ attorney, Moses Kadye, was left with no choice but to withdraw the case after Nthomiwa furnished them with an interim court order for the liquidation filed before Justice Abednico Tafa of Lobatse High Court.

“We did not know that such an interim order made. We had only heard rumours that’s why we decided to go ahead with our case but now that were have seen it, we have no choice but to withdraw our case.

We will wait for the final confirmation for liquidation so that my clients can be paid,” he said.

The mine workers, who were to argue their case by Notice of Motion, filed an urgent application on March 12, 2015 seeking  the following orders:  “That the matter be dealt with urgently and the respondents be called to show cause if any among others.”

They also wanted to know why their action in locking out the applicants and removing them from the mine premises was declared wrongful and unlawful.

“Why the deputy sheriff of the court should not be ordered to proceed to Boseto mine and attach the property of the respondents, and to hold such property until the final end and determination of the action to be instituted by the applicants to recover unpaid salaries, overtime, terminal benefits and damages for unlawful termination” the workers said. They also wanted that the respondents be ordered to pay the costs for the application and that  (the applicants) be allowed alternative relief.

According to court documents, as the petitioners, Standard Chartered Bank had forced all courts proceedings against the mine company to be stayed, due to a court order that was issued after their petition. They made the petition on March 9, 2015 contending that the mine company was commercial and legally insolvent and unable to pay its debts. The Bank submitted the matter on urgency arguing that the company had no prospects of returning to solvency and would be unable to pay amounts to lenders.

The mine’s continued operation would simply serve to deplete the reserves and resources available at the mine, yet yield no returns sufficient to discharge Discovery’s Creditors.

“Continued operation of the mine has the net effect of devaluing the lenders security by way of depreciation in value of fixed assets of mine and the reduction in volume of resources available at Boseto Mine and an increase in number and amounts owing to the creditors of Discovery,” noted the Bank.

The order that followed the petition stated that the petition be heard, determined and disposed of as an urgent petition in accordance with provisions of the court. That the respondents being the Discovery Copper Botswana and Discovery Mines be placed under provisional order of winding up in the hands of the Master of the High Court.

Justice Nthomiwa ruled in favour of the bank and made orders.

“The order is hereby issued calling upon interested persons to appear and show cause if any to the court why an order in the following terms should not be granted being that the provisional winding up order be made a final order.

Furthermore, the court ordered, “…that the costs of the application be costs in the winding up of the respondents and that all actions and or proceedings against the respondents currently before courts be stayed,” stated the order.

The return date for the order is March 27, 2015.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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