Former attorney general (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale has distanced himself from businessman Abdul Karim Batatawala’s assertion that his K53 billion claim in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services uniforms’ supplies case was ever considered for an out-of-court settlement during his tenure of office.
Two companies owned by Batatawala, namely Africa Commercial Agency and Reliance Trading Company, are claiming K53 billion payment for an initial K9 billion contract to supply uniforms to the department.
However, current AG Chikosa Silungwe describes the claim as “dubious” and has invited Anti-Corruption Bureau officials to reinstitute investigations into the matter.
Batatawala has since asked the AG’s office for an out-of-court settlement of the claim, saying discussions were already underway when Silungwe was taking over the office.
A letter by Batatawala’s lawyers Nampota and Company, asking for an out-of-court settlement of the matter, says the matter was already considered for an out-of-court settlement before it somehow proceeded to trial.
“We would like to inform you that this matter was already in the process of an out-of-court negotiated settlement to avoid costs before it proceeded to trial,” the letter reads.
But Kaphale—who was AG at that time—said the K53 billion claim was never, at any point, discussed or considered for an out-of-court settlement.
“Companies connected to this gentleman had many business deals with government and they were always claiming payments. I remember two cases which were concluded and payment was due but not on the K53 billion claim.
“This claim was not being contested at the time I left government. There was no way that it could be settled out of court because it was a complex matter involving procurement issues,” Kaphale said.
Batatawala’s lawyers wrote AG Silungwe’s office on the issue of out-of-court settlement on June 7 2021.
However, Silungwe has stood his ground, saying, while it was true that he had received the letter, his office is ready to defend the claim in court.