CoA overrules African Alliance loss against former employees
Former African Alliance Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Donald Gaetsaloe, has lost a case at the Court of Appeal together with another ex-employee in which they challenged African Alliance to pay them severance benefits, documents show.
On 4 November, the Court of Appeal (CoA) overruled the High Court of Botswana ruling in which former African Alliance employees in Moarabi Mariri and Donald Galebotsoe had triumphed over their employer who declined their claim of severance benefits.
This happened after the two dragged asset management firm African Alliance to court because the company refused to pay them severance benefits.
Mariri and Galebotsoe were employed by the company at different times. They also left the employ of African Alliance at different times. Gaetsaloe, who left African Alliance about two years ago, was employed as CEO while Mariri was Senior Sales Executive. Gaetsaloe has since established his own private equity investment firm named Confianza. Mariri is an Accounts Relationship Manager at Banc ABC.
According to court papers, the two were obliged to join their former employers Sentlhaga Pension Fund to which they contributed 9 percent of their basic salaries to the pension fund, the contribution was paid into the fund by the company on behalf of the employees.
Nevertheless, court papers state that the two claimed their severance benefits in terms of Section 27 of the Employment Act only to hit a hard rock as their former employer refused to pay the severance benefits.
Their legal battle saw Gaetsaloe being represented by Sikhumbuzo Masuku of Bayford and Associates, Mariri by Merapelo Mariri of S.G. Mariri Attorneys while African Alliance was on represented by Advocate Dick Mahon from South Africa instructed by Simon Bathusi of Armstrongs. They lost the case earlier this year at the High Court which led to them appealing it.
The appeal case, which took place on 4 November 2019, was decided upon by a quorum of three judges in Justice Zibani Makhwade, Singh Walia and Leatile Dambe. According to court papers, the applicant in African Alliance argued that Mariri and Galebotsoe’s only share which the two were entitled to when terminating their contracts is the one that they obtained from the collective investments of the Sentlhaga Pensions Fund.
However, when delivering his minority judgement, Makhwande disagreed with that, stating: “ There is no doubt that the scheme of Employment Act was an obligation upon the employer to pay severance benefits to employees at the termination of the period of employment.” He said so before dismissing the case with costs.
Walia, however, overturned that decision in his dissenting judgement. Walia, when delivering his dissenting judgement which was seconded by Dambe, emphasised that Mariri and Galebotsoe did not qualify for the severance benefits as they had already been paid the pension. He then allowed the appeal with costs, meaning that both Mariri and Galebotsoe are the biggest losers in the case.