Econet ordered to refund client, $128k

HARARE High Court judge Justice Davison Moses Foroma has ordered Econet Wireless (Pvt) Ltd to reimburse $128 000 erroneously billed on its agent and customer, Antolice Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd’s recharge cards credit account.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Foroma gave the order after Antolice approached the court for recourse, arguing that its account for a credit facility had been tampered with and fraudulently billed by Econet employees.

The telecommunications firm’s employees later claimed payment of the cash which they converted to their own use, the court heard.

The fraudulent activity was exposed in 2011 when Econet filed a $20 020 lawsuit against Antolice Enterprises, seeking payment of some recharge cards which it claimed the latter had not settled.

In response to the litigation, Antolice Enterprises also filed a counter claim, accusing Econet Wireless of having demanded and accepted $128 200 for some recharge cards which it had never placed an order for and were never delivered.

“During the trial it was conceded by the plaintiff’s (Econet) witness (Mlungisi Dube) that the plaintiff’s employees could abuse the customers (dealers) credit facility as happened… the sum total of the observations including the foregoing comments do not establish on a balance of probability that the defendant (Antolice) collected the goods as per disputed invoices; this in particular if it is born in mind that the plaintiff’s employee Morgan Maganje was found guilty of abuse of a dealer credit facility,” High Court judge Justice Davison Moses Foroma said.

According to the court papers, one Kudakwashe Garutsa, who was alleged to have collected the recharge cards from Econet Wireless on behalf of Antolice on three different occasions, disputed that his company ever placed the said orders and neither did it collect the purported goods.

In his judgment Justice Foroma said: “Kudakwashe Garutsa gave evidence that plaintiff debited the defendant with three invoices which defendant subsequently discovered it had not collected stock for neither had defendant placed an order for the stocks allegedly supplied.”

“Thus although defendant paid for these invoices in the normal course of business on investigation defendant realised that it had incorrectly been debited with the cost of the said stock…..Garutsa also disputed the signatures on the three invoices in dispute as not being his.”

In support of its claim Econet Wireless had called the evidence of its credit controller, one Dube, who apparently when the invoices were allegedly raised in 2011; he was not part of the Econet employees.

But, Justice Foroma said Dube himself conceded during the trial that his firm’s employees could abuse the customer’s credit facility.

“In the circumstances I find that the defendant has proved its claim on a balance of probabilities. Subject to plaintiff’s right of set off in respect of the admitted claim of $20 020…it is ordered that plaintiff pay defendant $128 200,” he said adding Econet should also pay interest and cost of suit.

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