The Office of the President has approached the Windhoek High Court in an attempt to force the now-defunct Cherry Tree Trading CC t/a Karseboom to deliver curtains, wallpaper, and scatter cushions valued at over N$1 million.
Alternatively, it wants a refund payment in the amount of N$1,037,440.45.
The school apparel retailer closed shop in August last year after almost 60 years in business, citing low sales volumes due to the current economic challenge facing the country.
Court records show that the Office of the President paid N$1,037,440.45 for the delivery of curtains, wallpaper, and scatter cushions to the Office of the Vice President at the old statehouse in Windhoek, but the goods were never delivered.
Cherry Trading was awarded a written contract on 6 February 2018, to deliver the items purchased to the Office of the Vice President. The goods were to be delivered within 40 days from the date of the purchase order and payment was to be made 30 days after execution of the contract.
However, in violation of the contract, State House paid the amount in full before delivery of the goods. The owners of Cherry Trading requested the advance payment claiming that they had to contact South African bulk suppliers as well as local suppliers and make special arrangements to meet the 40-day deadline.
Documents show that Karseboom owner, Yolande Ciolek, who bought the shop in 2001 from its founders, wrote to the Director: State House and General Services Alma Nambundunga in November 2018 informing her that Karseboom was no longer able to supply the curtains and other items that had already been paid for because it had been declared insolvent.
“It is with regret that you are hereby informed that B Karseboom CC, due to various negative factors had to close its doors for business in August 2018. The Close Corporation is therefore insolvent with no chance of any payment,” Ciolek wrote in an email dated 21 November 2018.
She added that she had lost everything, including her house which was foreclosed and sold at loss.
“I now live with my daughter as I have nothing left.”
Ciolek and her partner Brendan Butcher, who was the managing director of Karseboom at the time when it closed shop, blames State House officials for causing delays in the delivery of the curtains.
“From February 2018, the representatives of Cherry Trading CC and the subcontractor (Karseboom) made contact with the listed representative to finalise the choice of all fabrics and fittings. Appointments made at both state offices and the business premises of B Karseboom CC were not kept by State House.
“A scheduled meeting at the offices of Officeconomix, a third party co-tendering for furniture to coordinate the final selections of both soft and hard furnishings, was not attended by a state representative authorised to sign off on any of the selections put forward,” the two argued in court papers.
They further said that correspondence with State House on several occasions with the architect in charge to finalise the choice of fabrics and fixtures were attempted, to no avail.
“Up until the suspension of business activity by Cherry Tree Trading CC in August 2018, no selection of any fabrics, fittings, fixtures, and trimmings had been made by the staff of State House,” they argued in court documents.
Ciolek and Butcher contend that they are unable to supply the curtains because the money that they received as payment had been exhausted when Karseboom booked full production facilities to ensure that the work could be concluded within the contracted 40-day period.
They said booking costs to cover all operational costs included rental fees, salaries, and wages, insurance, rates and taxes for services and sundry operational costs.
“All the delays by state and the failure to select any goods for the tender were a major contributing factor in the bankruptcy and closing of the subcontractor and the suspension of business activities by Cherry Trading CC in August 2018.”
Butcher further said the costs incurred by Cherry Trading and the subcontractor during the nine-month delay by the Office of the President exceeded the tendered amount by an estimated N$300,000.
“In light of the aforementioned, the request by the office of the president that the fabrics are delivered or the money be paid back is impossible,” Butcher said.