Swaziland
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TRENCOR WINS IN CHICKS COURT BATTLE

MBABANE – Trencor Investments (Pty) Ltd has succeeded in its appeal against Africa Chicks (SWZ) (Pty) Ltd, after being ordered to pay the latter E1 290 690.97 last year.

On November 3, 2022, High Court Judge Bongani Sydney Dlamini ordered Trencor Investments, which is operated by the same proprietor as Futi’s Chicken Cottage, to pay Africa Chicks two separate claims of E642 212.14 and E684 478.80 at nine per cent interest per annum. On Friday, the Supreme Court set aside the judgment of the High Court. When Trencor Investments received the summons, it made three payments totalling E188 322.81 in respect of the second claim to E460 156.02. Trencor Investments filed an appeal in the Supreme Court and it was heard by Judge Mbutfo Mamba, sitting with Judge Nkululeko Hlophe and Judge Judith Currie. In their unanimous judgment, the judges upheld Trencor Investments’ appeal and referred the matter back to the High Court to be heard anew before another judge. The court also ordered Trencor Investments to pay costs for the appeal.

various

When the matter heard at the High Court, Julia Rita Saulos, who was the Country Director of Africa Chicks told the court at the time that Africa Chicks supplied day old chicks to Trencor Investments on a weekly basis to various farms situated at Motshane and Sigangeni. She stated that on a weekly basis, Africa Chicks supplied, between 20 000 to 25 000 day old chicks Trencor Investments. She said there was a business agreement between the parties in terms of which Africa Chicks would supply the day old chicks on credit to Trencor Investments and the latter was expected to settle or pay for the goods within seven to 14 or 30 days. In her evidence, Saulos stated that the credit facility existing between the parties was that upon delivery of the specified goods, an invoice would then be generated by Africa Chicks which Trencor Investments required to settle within the agreed period. She told the court that Africa Chicks also supplied broiler feed sourced from the Republic of South Africa (SA) to, among other customers, Trencor Investments. Saulos informed the court that the debit outstanding from Trencor Investments would at time rise up to E3 million but the latter would gradually reduce it until it was slightly above E1 million.

respect

When she appeared at the High Court, she alleged that Trencor owed Africa Chicks E642 212.14 for broiler chicks supplied to it and another sum of E460 156.02 in respect of broiler feed and medication supplied to it. She denied that Trencor Investments had settled the amount as alleged in its plea. According to Saulos, Trencor Investments stopped making payment in 2015. “The defendant (Trencor Investments) withdrew its orders with the plaintiff (Africa Chicks) and basically stopped dealing with the plaintiff. The plaintiff then issued several demands to the defendant for payment of the outstanding amounts of money due to it. “According to PW1 (Saulos), the defendant’s officers gave several explanations for not being able to pay the outstanding amounts including that its computer systems had crashed. PW1 stated that they made copies of all documents including orders, delivery notes and invoices to the plaintiff but they would still not pay,” read the judgment of the High Court.

Trencor Investments’ attorneys withdrew their services and later served a notice of appointment as attorneys of record. This, according to the court, effectively meant after the matter could not proceed on the allocated dates due to the defendant’s attorneys’ withdrawal from the matter, the latter attorneys immediately re-appointed themselves as attorneys of record for the defendant in the matter. Judge Dlamini stated in his judgment that it did not take ‘Solomonic’ wisdom to understand that the notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record was filed purely to avoid the trial. On October 17, 2022, being the first day of trial, Trencor Investments’ attorney did not show up.

conspicuously

In the Supreme Court, Judge Mamba said the conduct displayed by Trencor Investments’ attorney was appalling and conspicuously bad. “It must be discouraged at all cost. This court will show its disapproval by issuing an appropriate order as to costs. There is a limit to which an attorney can circumvent and seek to frustrate the due process of law by playing around with the Rules of Court, thereby ensuring that a matter does not get to be heard by the court. Practitioners ought to properly utilise the Rules of Court and not use them as a shield for their inept conduct and to frustrate the other party by shrewdly tempering with the smooth flow of the wheels of justice,” said Judge Mamba.