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Court dismisses application for case withdrawal

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Industrial Court Judge President, Tebogo Maruping, has turned down an application for a withdrawal in a marathon case between former Wildlife Ranger, Thatayaone Lexicon Mpatane and his former employer Department of Wildlife & National Parks.

In a brief letter dated 10th March, the Registrar of the Industrial Court, Anna Mphethe writes that: “I’m directed by by the Honourable Judge President who’s seized with this matter to inform you that this has been concluded and is currently awaiting judgement and therefore your application for withdrawal will not be entertained.”

A bemused Mpatane told The Voice that he was shocked that the Judge President has rejected his intention to withdraw the matter. “In our correspondences last year, whenever I inquired about the case, I was always given the impression that the Judge President had a backlog of cases from as far back as 2017 and mine was number 50 out of about 51 cases,” he said.

Mpatane referred The Voice to a correspondence from the Court written on 20th December 2019 in response to his inquiry written on 11th November 2019.

In the letter written by Bakang Tshipinare on behalf of the Registrar, the Judge President states that the principle of first in, last out is applied when cases are adjudicated before court. “Your matter will hence be dealt with, once the preceding cases are concluded. We’ll hence keep yourself updated on the estimated time frames during the year 2020,” reads part of the letter.

In court documents seen by this publication, Mpatane wrote his case withdrawal letter on 3rd February and requested a prompt meeting with the bench clerk to inspect the file.

However according to Mpatane while the court provided him with the documents the one he needed the most was conspicuously missing. “The court order confirming that I withdrew the matter was not among the documents and when I inquired further I was told the Judge President had refused to write the order asserting that he had already heard the case and would write judgement,” he said.

The former ranger told The Voice last week that he needed the material to register the matter with the High Court to seek for additional reliefs which the Industrial Court cannot grant.

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Elephant mortality in Okavango rises to 110, Anthrax ruled out

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Wildlife and National Parks department has ruled out Anthrax as a killer disease for elephants along some villages in the Okavango delta.

As of Friday last week, at least 110 dead elephants were discovered in areas of Seronga, Gunotsoga and Eretsha in the past three weeks and were suspected to have died from Anthrax.

However the Anthrax laboratory tests have come back negative, leaving the government departments searching for more answers. 

“Laboratory results have ruled out Anthrax and we are awaiting more results,” explained regional Wildlife coordinator in Maun, Dimakatso Ntshebe.

Ntshebe said his department through the help of veterinary department services are still conducting further tests to find out whether or not this mysterious disease is not a result of poisoning.

The disease according to Ntshebe causes the giant’s front legs to weaken and therefore the unwell animal walks in uncoordinated manner and ultimately drops to its death.

“We don’t know what could be the cause of this disease but we are working around the clock to find out and hopefully work on the cure,” added Ntshebe.

Some samples are to be sent to South Africa for further testing. “We could have taken other samples to the neighbouring Zimbabwe, but because of COVID-19 that brought everything to almost a standstill, we could not send them,” Ntshebe explained before adding that, “before coronavirus outbreak, Botswana and Zimbabwe were in talks and have entered into some agreements including exportation and importation of certain medications, but we have not yet concluded the matter regarding samples, that is why we have not been able to send samples to Zimbabwe.”

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SADC Executive Secretary disturbed by obstacles in movement of goods

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The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stegomena Lawrence Tax, has cautioned member states that any lack of cooperation among then during the COVID19 era has potential to reverse the gains made in the last decades.

Addressing a virtual SADC Council of Ministers meeting this week, Lawrence Tax said that the regional ministers approved Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Movement of Essential Goods and Services across borders early April. 

She said that whilst the guidelines have played a critical role in facilitation of movement of essential goods, there are notable obstacles that have been noted by the Secretariat.

The obstacles include non-compliance/non recognition of regional legal frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies; lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states; unilateral decisions outside agreed framework; as well as different approaches to deal with epidemiological challenges,” she said. 

She added that; “all these are resulting in increased cost of doing business, and negatively affecting the implementation of national and regional programmes”.

She advised that there is need to have measures, and coordinated approach in place since the region is in a post lockdown period since the transportation of non-essential goods and services will be resuming.

Lawrence Tax added that COVID19 is a global pandemic and that the SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and eventually to other continental blocs.

“The Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services under the Tripartite arrangement. We need to move in unison and avoid unilateral decisions, specifically with regards to cross border movement of goods and services,” she said.

According to the Executive Secretary, the regional office has already conducted a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID19 on the region and the results have shown that the pandemic will impact negatively across many socio and economic sectors.

“The decline in the global economy is projected to lead to a decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020. This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years,” Lawrence Tax said.

On the flip side,  the region’s International Cooperating Partners have made pledges to mitigate the impact of COVID19 pandemic on its economy. 

“To date, the Secretariat has secured Euro 7.3 million from the German Government; Euro3.6million from European Union, Euro 190,000.00 under the GIZ/Africa Union Commission, whereas the African Development Bank (AfDB)  has considered a support UA 7 million. Engagements with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are also at an advanced stage,” the Executive Secretary said.

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