Works loses hotel demolition suit

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Works loses hotel demolition suit

Musician-turned-businessman John Sylvanus John has successfully won a lawsuit against the Ministry of Works following a fallout over the demolition of a government building in Okahandja.

The Windhoek High Court has concluded that the works ministry and the country’s treasury approved a tender awarded to John Sylvanus John, known as John John in the entertainment sphere, to demolish a dilapidated government hotel in Okahandja.

“The court is convinced that the plaintiff carried out the demolition work in the mistaken but reasonable belief that the demolition work was due to the defendants by the plaintiff in terms of an agreement,” said Judge Hannelie Prinsloo.

Prinsloo said John is entitled to be paid what he is owed for the work done.

Although John wanted N$2.4 million as payment, the court concluded that he will only be awarded payment equating to the actual value of the work, as outlined by their respective expert witnesses.

So, the court awarded payment in the amount of N$1 298 162.49.

John sued the works ministry after the latter refused to pay, citing that not only was the tender awarded irregularly, but there is no contractual agreement between John’s company, Addi Investment Africa, and the ministry.

The ministry was considering housing the Malaysian Limkokwing University of Creative Technology Campus in the said building.

The demolition tender caused consternation at the ministry of works, with former deputy minister James Sankwasa ordering the demolition to be stopped during a site visit on 9 March 2019.

According to a Namibian Sun report, Sankwasa had allegedly called in the police to stop the work after questioning how John’s company’s invoice could have arrived at the ministry on 6 March, and the job was certified on the same day. At the time, the contractor refused to stop the work and instead demanded written confirmation that the job be halted, Namibian Sun reported further.

In court documents, works minister John Mutorwa said he was unaware of the said agreement between Addi Investment Africa and the ministry.

He recalls that on 23 January 2017, John, on behalf of his company, wrote to the ministry’s then executive director Willem Goeieman with a proposal to lease the property for purposes of operating and conducting hotel and restaurant services for 25 years.

On 20 February 2017, John wrote to the ministry that he had visited the property, and discovered it was dilapidated.

He allegedly proposed demolishing it. He further proposed that he would only lease the land, as he was planning on investing N$40 million for the lease and construction of a new building.

The ministry likewise conducted its own inspection, and on 6 March 2017 agreed to the demolition of the building. On 27 June 2018, treasury granted authorisation to the ministry for the building on the property to be demolished.

However, treasury refused to authorise the lease of the property to John, and instead advised that the ministry allows government entities to build office accommodation on the property.

John, on 12 December 2018, gave the ministry his quotation of about N$2.4 million. On 25 February 2019, Goeieman informed him he could commence with work.

In a letter directed to Goeieman and dated 18 March 2019, John requested his full payment, stating he was done demolishing, and his work had already been inspected by the ministry’s officials. Mutorwa said based on the correspondence, there was no compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.

John’s lawyer Tinashe Chibwana said there is documentary evidence that a contract existed between John’s company and the ministry. He said the existence of the 25 February 2019 letter from Goeieman confirms there was a contract.

He added that the letter clearly states that treasury approved the demolition. That is why Goeieman stamped his quotation of N$2 489 140.50 for the demolition work on 27 February 2019.


In question… The dilapidated government structure that was demolished.