THE Gondwana Collection and Hollard Namibia squared off in the High Court in an urgent application to seek relief on Business Interruption Claims, stating that the company would suffer irrevocable losses if the matter is not heard on the 31st of March 2021.
South African lawyer Ian Green, who represented Gondwana stated that the matter at present is real and that COVID-19 throughout Namibia is a notorious fact as there are figures provided by the government every day which substantiate it.
He further noted that Hollard’s request for information on the test results of the two Romanians which were the first two people to be confirmed with the virus in Namibia is unrealistic as the company is unable to track down lab results taken over a year ago in South Africa.
He further added that by requesting this information, Hollard insurance is trying to render its obligation to compensate Gondwana redundant by asking them to track down this information which is impossible to obtain.
He further noted that on 11 September 2020 Hollard notified its client that after careful consideration and legal advice it would not cover Business Interruption Claims caused by the lockdown.
Green added that the matter is urgent as Gondwana has lost 95% of its income and currently can not continue with its business. He further stated that the matter is urgent as 11 000 employees would lose their jobs and that the issue deals with the livelihoods of people.
Green further negated Hollard Namibia’s legal representative, Advocate Raymond Heathcote’s wish to cross-examine the managing director of Gondwana, Gysbertus Joubert, stating that Hollard has not filed an answering affidavit.
He added that if Hollard is allowed to cross examine Joubert before providing an answering affidavit, it would be in an extra-ordinary position as this is unheard of.
Advocate Raymond Heathcote stated that in Namibia, Gondwana’s lodges are located all over the country, however, there is none in Windhoek. He further quoted Joubert stating that the COVID-19 lockdown came tumbling down in the capital and not where the lodges are located.
He further noted when requested for further information by Hollard in June 2020 on further information to verify their claims, Gondwana Collection, however, responded that they should not be rushed as they have two years in terms of the contract to provide information, which begs the question of the current application.
Advocate Heathcote further noted that a property valuation of the company valued its immovable assets at N$792 million, and had insured it for N$630 million. He added that by July 2020, Gondwana stated that it would institute legal action, however, has dragged its feet on the matter.
He added that a trigger event or viable documents on why the case is commercially urgent should be provided.
“You must provide facts. We can’t do much with your statement that COVID-19 has had “devastating effects” on your business. Of course, everyone suffered loss, however, why must the matter be heard on 31 March 2021? We need cash flow details.” Advocate Heathcote argued.
He further added that Bank Windhoek had provided Gondwana with a N$70 million loan, however, the company opted to only accept N$50 million, quoting Gondwana as stating that the loan facility would help it meet its financial obligations till the end of March.
He however noted that in order for the application to be urgent there should be eloquent facts such as a letter that states that the company is about to be liquidated, and not just eloquent words expressing distress.
Heathcote asked that the letter should be struck from the roll.
After hearing the arguments of both Hollard Namibia and the Gondwana Collection, High Court Judge Kobus Miller announced that he will hand down his decision on the urgency of the matter on 13 April 2021.