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Convention Centre appeal dismissed

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The occupants would have to vacate the premises with immediate effect

Picture: Danie van der Lith

ASSURANCES have been given that bookings made at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre will not be affected after the appeal to prevent the occupants from being evicted was dismissed in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday.

Spokesperson for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Zandisile Luphahla, said that provided there was proof of payment to the previous occupants, the bookings would go ahead as scheduled.

“There is no need to panic, the department and the Northern Cape Economic Development Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Nceda) will ensure that the bookings are honoured.”

He stated that the occupants would have to vacate the premises with immediate effect.

According to the court order, Umfana Business Enterprises CCs and Silver Solutions CC joint venture have been ordered to hand in their financial books to Nceda within the next 30 days.

They will also be required to provide details of all revenue generated through the hiring of the venue as well as all related expenses.

The application was heard before a full bench of the Northern Cape division against the entire judgment that was handed down on February 23, where acting Judge Alme Stanton had ruled that the agreement between the parties had been validly cancelled in 2012.

Umfana Business Enterprises CC and Silver Solutions 1069 CC trading as International Conventions Solutions CC were evicted from the premises but up to now have still been occupying the centre, pending the outcome of the appeal.

In the application, the joint venture had objected to the manner in which the matter was adjudicated, where Stanton acted as counsel on behalf of their opponents.

Removal

Umfana Enterprises and Silver Solutions joint venture argued that there were no grounds to order their removal from the centre.

After judgment was handed down, and prior to the hearing of the application for leave to appeal, the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) filed an application for leave to intervene in the proceedings.

The AGSA indicated that it could not be compelled to perform either any private audit functions or audit the books of a private company.

State attorney, advocate N Ngcangisa, submitted that both the applicants and the respondents were aware of Stanton’s appearance on July 24, 2015, when the main proceedings commenced on February 9 this year although the joint venture had not brought an application for her recusal.

He argued that by failing to inform the court of their apprehension regarding the acting judge’s impartiality, they had waived their right to object.

“Judges do not choose their cases and litigants do not choose their judges. An application for recusal should not prevail unless it is based on substantial grounds for contending a reasonable apprehension of bias.”

Ngcangisa added that the joint venture was obliged to provide a full account and report on the management of the convention centre on a monthly basis and provide accounts of all revenue generated upon termination of the service level agreement.

The legal representative for the joint venture, believed that there was still a dispute over which entity was permitted to occupy the convention centre and which party should have been evicted.

He argued that the convention centre was rightfully occupied by the joint venture.

Umfana Business Enterprises CCs and Silver Solutions CC joint venture said that they would consult with their legal representatives to discuss the way forward.