Netherlands investor defrauded in Botswana
An investor from Netherlands, Dirk Legemaat, is embroiled in a legal battle in Botswana after being defrauded a farm worth P3 million in Ghanzi and losing around P750 000 to a local attorney accused of fraud and forging signatures.
Legemaat, a farmer, reportedly operates a multi-million-pula dairy farm in Bronkhorstpruit, South Africa where he milks over 800 dairy cows on daily basis and raises over 100 calves and 800 heifers.
In his effort to invest in Botswana, Legemaat purchased a 10 hectare-farm in Ghanzi from Raps Mbish, a local farmer, worth P3 million. Mbish is said to have resold the farm to Toast Rack (Pty) Ltd.
After being evicted from the farm, Legemaat engaged local attorney Hermanus Christoffel Du Plessis to file a case against Mbish and the farming entity in a fight for its ownership. Judge Lot Moroka later dismissed Legemaat’s ownership claims.
It has emerged however that Moroka’s judgement could be “fraudulent” as it is based on affidavits with forged signatures. This is because, Du Plessis, the lawyer representing Legemaat is banned from practicing law in Botswana. According to the Dutchman’s new representative, Mwikisa Attorneys, Moroka and the court registrar in Lobatse failed to pick this mistake and proceeded to find against him despite the fact that he was never engaged to make or sign affidavits. “As the affidavits were filed by Du Plessis he, Du plessis has to tell us, where he got the signatures. We suspect that he forged the affidavits and the signatures,” said the law firm. The Court of Appeal (CoA) has halted the matter to engage handwriting experts, something Legemaat’s lawyers say could take up to a year.
In the affidavit filed at CoA, Legemaat said he never signed any affidavits relating to the case and that he was not in Botswana on dates the affidavits were purported to have been signed. “I suspect that Du Plessis could have used some of the full scan of blank papers I signed, to create the impression that I signed affidavits and in the instance it appears that my signatures were forged and affidavits were fraudulently made. The judgment obtained was granted fraudulently as I never signed affidavits filed in the case. I confirm that I did not derive any benefits from the affidavits, in fact the whole exercise left me out of pocket to the extent of almost P750 000,” he wrote.
It has emerged that when Du Plessis was appointed as Legemaat’ attorney in March 2011, he did not have a certificate of practice from Law Society Botswana. A public notice was released on the 5th July 2016, stating that Du Plessis, his partner and firm were not allowed to provide legal services. “Du Plessis did not disclose this to me and I was not represented by a legal practitioner at High Court and the judgment so granted was a miscarriage of justice and is null. The appointment of Monthe Marumo as my new attorney by Du Plessis, was also null and void as Du Plessis could not delegate a right he did not possess,” the Dutchman argued.
The farmer wants the CoA to rescind Moroka’s judgment. Du Plessis’ alleged forgery, meanwhile, is under investigation.
The CoA is expected to make pronouncement on the validity of Moroka’s judgement on 2nd February 2017.