Jet agent ordered to pay two doctors E20 million
MBABANE – University of South Africa (UNISA) Law Professor, Frans Whelpton, has been ordered to pay two South African doctors E10 million each after a E3.2 billion health care development project which was billed for Swaziland fell through.
Professor Whelpton is the agent who was enlisted by government to recover the E28 million deposit for His Majesty King Mswati III’s Bombardier jet.
He was reported by Finance Minister Majozi Sithole to have disappeared after recovering the money.
The Pretoria News yesterday reported that Whelpton was appointed to handle the health care project’s implementation and, in 2003, he approached the two medical doctors to become involved in the venture. Chief Logcogco (Prince Mangaliso), who is Chairman of the King’s advisory body, Liqoqo, was allegedly project manager of the programme according to the report. He, however, disputed this in an SMS response sent to this reporter yesterday when sought for comment.
The matter was before the Pretoria High Court yesterday where it was alleged that Whelpton convinced doctors Reynhardt van Rooyen and Johannes to become part of the project.
The doctors are reported to have given up their medical practices in South Africa to join the project after they were shown various letters, including one allegedly signed by Chief Logcogco, proving that the project was legit.
"The doctors said they were also told an amount of R3.2 billion was made available to Swaziland for this from certain donor funds and that this money would be deposited in Swaziland’s Central Bank. This was due to happen as soon as Swaziland’s new constitution was accepted by the Swaziland Parliament.
"The doctors said Whelpton told them that for their help in the planning and development of the programme, they would receive three per cent of the amount, which worked out to R160m over a three-year period. The doctors said they agreed to become involved and in September 2003 made a presentation to the professor and Prince Mangaliso regarding the structure of the programme. They subsequently received a letter from the prince that they were appointed to assist with establishing the programme," Pretoria News reported.
The doctors are said to have started winding down their practices and in the process of handing over their patients to other doctors in 2004 despite not having received any of the money as the kingdom’s Constitution had not received Parliament approval.
"Whelpton, meanwhile, wanted to ensure that the doctors did not suffer financial loss while winding down their practices and suggested that he would loan each R10m. He, however, did not have the money readily available at the time and planned to pay them from money he was due to receive for work which he had done for the Swazi government," the publication reported.
Whelpton, it is said, was due to receive millions from the United Nations for research he had undertaken regarding the Swazi common law.
A written agreement was allegedly signed between the two parties on January 22, 2004.
"The doctors said they had to restart their medical practices in the last quarter of 2005 as they had not yet received any payment. Whelpton was also not able to pay them, as he, too, was waiting for his money," it is reported.
In his judgment, Judge JW Louw is quoted as having said it might be so that the loan agreement did not stipulate a specific date as to when the money should be paid, but added that the money should have been paid within a reasonable time after the constitution was accepted by the Swazi Parliament.
"The judge said it was clear that there was a binding contract between the parties and that the doctors were entitled to the amount promised to them in terms of the loan agreement," Pretoria News added.
Percy Simelane, Spokesperson for the King’s Office and government, said his office did not have information on the failed E3.2 billion health care development project. As a result, he said it would be difficult for him to comment on it.
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