Akunamathata sues villagers over elephants
A Community Trust made up of Pandamatenga, Lesoma and Kazungula villages has been slapped with a P3, 1million law suit, for allegedly auctioning 21 elephants contracted with Akunamathata Wildlife Safaris.
Akunamathata, a professional elephant hunting company operates in Botswana and neighbouring Zimbabwe.
It is alleged that Paleka Community Trust proposed that Akunamathata Wildlife Safaris be granted another two year hunting agreement lease when their contract expired sometime last year but later made a u-turn without informing the latter.
“We really don’t understand why the renewed contract was then suddenly terminated and elephants put on auction without anyone consulting us. What also confuses us is that the Trust accepted a deposit of P65 000 but went on to auction the elephants,” said Akunamathatha Director Leon Andrew.
He said his company lost millions after clients from abroad who had proposed to come for elephant safari hunting, cancelled their arrangement when word went round that Akunamathata had lost the 21 elephants from the community trust.
The chairman of the Trust, Thabo Tuelo, contradicted himself, when asked about the sudden termination of contract between Paleka and Akunamathata.
Initially Tuelo put all the blame on the trust’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and accused them of interfering.
“The Trust worked harmoniously with Akunamathata and the TAC started interfering and even went to the extent of terminating the signed deal without consulting us.”
The chairman however later changed his story after he was questioned about thousands of Pula, which are said to be missing from the Trust, with him being the main person to accountable.
“I don’t want to say anything about Paleka and the missing money. The minister will be coming to address the issue. I will not say anything regarding the elephants and this Akunamathata but, I want to warn you that if you don’t leave this case, you are surely going to be in trouble,” Tuelo said and warned that if The Voice put the story paper: “I will simple sue the paper.”
Then Tuelo accused Akunamathata of not honouring the agreements in the signed deal. “These people failed to pay up the agreed money and now want to put pressure on us,” he complained.
When contact for a comment the Chairman of the TAC Maphorisa, admitted that he was aware of the auctioned elephants but referred all the questions to the district commissioner.
“The DC is the one who knows everything. Even the letters which I personally signed regarding Paleka were done on behalf of the DC,” Maphorisa said, adding, “Just call the DC because he knows everything about this issue.”
Kasane DC however flatly refused to comment on the issue of the auctioned elephants and said: “I will not talk to someone whom I can’t see and I am also not in a position to say whether I know anything about the case or not.”
Meanwhile Wada Nfila of Nfila attorneys confirmed that he has been engaged by Akunamathata wildlife Safaris to pursue litigation against Paleka.