GCC lose BCP suit with costs

Gaborone City Council (GCC) has lost with costs a case in which they were suing Botswana Congress Party (BCP) President and Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central Dumelang Saleshando for unlawfully erecting posters or advertising structures at Orapa House Junction traffic lights, River walk traffic lights, Molapo crossing traffic lights and every other traffic lights. The High Court Judge Justice Modiri Letsididi dismissed the application with costs and said reasons will be handed down on the 2nd of May.

The city council based its case on Road Traffic Act Chap 69.01, section 102 which provides that, “any person who, without the written permission of the appropriate road authority – encroaches on a road or any land reserved, at the side or sides by making or erecting any building, fence, ditch, advertisement sign or other obstacle or by digging or by planting or sowing any tree, shrub or seeds shall be guilty of an offence and shall be sentenced to not less than P100.00 or more than P500.00 or to imprisonment for a term of not less than two months or more than six months.”

The council through their lawyer Tholoana Phooko of Tholoana Phooko attorneys filed an urgent application to compell Saleshando and his party to remove the said posters or advertising structures and restore possession of land to GCC with immediate effect.

GCC asked the court to interdict and restrain Saleshando and the BCP from further erecting similar posters and advertising structures on the council area without the consent of the council. It also wanted the matter to be treated as urgent, claiming that the erected posters and advertising structures are a public safety hazard and obstructive to traffic. GCC claimed that as the responsible regulating authority it could suffer law suits in the event of injury occurring as a result of the erected posters and advertising structures because Saleshando and his party did not approach GCC to ensure that the posters and advertisement have been properly inspected in terms of the law.

The council contended that Saleshando and his party could set a costly precedent as the council will have to make more applications to curb continuous unauthorized erection of posters and advertising structures to ensure adherence to relevant laws in bill board advertising.

In their response, the BCP and its president represented by attorney Martin Dingake of Dingake Law Partners argued that the entire application be dismissed as there are no causalities linked to the traffic lights mentioned by the council. Dingake argued that the party president has been improperly and unnecessarily joined as a respondent and has been embarrassed by same and put to unnecessary expenses by being required to attend to court and secure the services of an attorney to represent him.

The case was supposed to be heard last Friday but was postponed to Monday due to the unavailability of judges.