Legal battle halts construction of 32 – bed – lodge
Two Safari camps operating in remote Khwai settlement, in NG 19, are embroiled in a land dispute which has led to a complete halt of a 32-bed-lodge construction.
In a matter before Maun High Court, Tsie Safaris acting on behalf of Machaba Camp, which is its sister company summoned Khwai Park Holdings (KPH) before Justice Bugalo Maripe to clarify whether indeed the latter has the right to develop or build a camp “so close” to Machaba camp.
KPH is owned by a Khwai native and ruling Botswana Democratic Party activist, Jonah Amos but managed by former North West District Council’s chairperson, Duncan Enga through his Safari Company, Afri Tourism Collection.
According to Enga, KPH has since been interdicted through a court order from developing the 32-bed lodge pending the completion of the matter before court.
The complaint before court is that Machaba is a lease holder of Lot 220 in Khwai, attained in February 2019 and suddenly this year they discovered that KPH was developing a lodge right next to theirs, an action which they believe is against the lodge management plan’
In a letter to Tawana landboard that forms part of affidavits filed in court, Tsie through its attorneys noted that, “On Saturday 18th March 2023 our client (Machaba) discovered that there was development that was being done 300 metres away from Machaba Camp which is our client’s lodge situated on the above stated property.”
The affidavit further reads, “Upon investigation client’s representatives discovered that a gentleman by the name of Duncan Ken Enga was the one carrying out the development. Our Client’s representatives were able to get into contact with Mr Enga who advised that he was making developments for and on behalf of his company, Khwai Park Holdings (PTY) LTD.”
Enga is said to have advised Machaba that his company owned or was the lease holder of the property he was developing but that when he was asked for copy of proof of deed, he was not forth coming with the information and documentation. However he is said to have revealed that he was working on developing a 32-bed lodge to carry out tourist activities.
“In terms of the Tawana and Chobe Land Boards Photographic Areas Management Plan of August 1996 in respect of NG 19, lodges are supposed to have a one kilometre radius from each other around the lodge site for operational purposes. Our client has since discovered that this radius has increased to 3km,” further reads the letter.
The contention by Tsie is that the proximity of the developments to Machaba Camp pose a problem in that they would interfere with client’s business and that the development is contrary to the 1996 management plan.
Tsie has requested from Tawana Land Board and Department of Environmental Assessment (DEA) documentation or proof that indeed either Enga or Khwai Park Holdings (Pty) Ltd have any entitlement to the said land either by way of registered title deed, a memorandum of agreement of lease or by certificate.
“We also request to be furnished with any and all documentation in relation to the title in respect of the said area and any entitlement that anyone including Mr Enga and or Khwai Park Holdings has to develop on that land so close to Machaba Camp,” further reads the affidavit.
In response DEA confirmed that indeed there is an authorisation for Khwai Park Holdings under the ownership of Jonah Amos as a sole director and shareholder.
“The developer initially applied for a Bed and Breakfast facility in his name in 2020, in 2022 the developer submitted an application for a camp in the same plot. The application to which the DEA issued an authorisation based on the initial authorisation DEA/NG/BOD/TOUR/LGD 193 (1).”
The matter returns to court on October 13th for argument over legal costs.