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MBABANE - FESBC and Inyatsi Group Holdings (Pty) Ltd are poised for a protracted legal battle.

This is so because Inyatsi Group Holdings (Pty) Limited has now instituted other court proceedings against the Federation of Eswatini Business Community (FESBC), where it is demanding E200 million from the latter and its Board members. According to the Inyatsi’s demand, E150 million of the E200 million is in respect of special damages it suffered due to the allegations that were made against it by FESBC and the E50 million is for general damages.

General damages compensate a victim for the pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life caused by an injury, while special damages compensate the victim for the out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the injury. This is arguably the highest lawsuit to be filed in the country’s courts.


In its particulars of claim, Inyatsi presented 12 things which it believed FESBC purportedly failed to do before making the allegations against it. These include, among others, failure to acquaint itself with the provisions of the Competition Act, 2009 and failure to investigate properly.  The demand comes at a time when the parties are currently engaged in another litigation, where Inyatsi and Maloma Colliery (Pty) Limited are seeking an order to interdict businessman Mavela Sigwane and FESBC from causing to be made and/or causing to be published any further malicious and defamatory statements about the them. They also want the court to interdict Sigwane and FESBC from causing to be made or published slanderous, manifestly obscene and untruthful statements concerning the applicants and their directors.


In the fresh proceedings, respondents are FESBC and its Board members, which consist of Tum du Pont, Thulile Dlamini, Mzwandile Dlamini, Fortunate Fyfe, Sigwane and Tania Fyfe. In the demand, the plaintiff (Inyatsi) is also praying for an order directing the defendant (FESBC) and its executive members, to retract the alleged defamatory statements and that such retraction be published in all media forums and social media or any other forum in which they were published, accompanied by an appropriate apology.

In the particulars of claim, the plaintiff narrated to the court that at all material times, FESBC knew that as a consequence of its position as a federation dealing with businesses of emaSwati, any correspondence or information issued by it would be afforded by recipients thereof the appropriate credibility and respect accorded to its position.


The plaintiff submitted that on November 30, 2023, the defendants directly and/or indirectly, through FESBC, issued and published a correspondence to the chief executive officer of Eswatini Competition Commission (ESCC).  According to Inyatsi, the correspondence was further copied to other legislative bodies, whose functions were critical to the smooth running of the economy of Eswatini. It was further Inyatsi’s contention that the correspondence was intended by the defendants, and was so published widely in Eswatini to the ESCC, press and  broadly for the information of the populace of Eswatini and internationally.

These are allegations whose veracity is still to be tested in court and the defendants are yet to file their answering papers. “As intended and/or anticipated by the defendants, the release and/or its contents was further published inter alia by the print media of Eswatini, internet media and social media and was made available to persons and the public in general and broadly both locally and internationally,” submitted the plaintiff.
It was further the plaintiff’s averment that the correspondence and the news articles were purportedly intended to pertain to and did pertained to Inyatsi.

Inyatsi submitted that the following statements were inter alia made concerning it: ‘Re Inyatsi Group’s dominance and unfair competition to local businesses-request for investigation’. The court was further informed that in the correspondence, FESBC stated that it had been instructed by its members to request the commission to urgently conduct an investigation on Inyatsi Group Holdings, on its alleged dominance and acquisition of various companies to the disadvantage of the local business community.  


Some of the allegations that were contained in the correspondence that was issued by FESBC to the ESCC were that; the plaintiff was allegedly guilty of deliberately creating or being party to affairs that the nature of which was State capture, corruption and unlawful activities. Others were that the acquisition of business entities by Inyatsi was allegedly tainted by unlawful competition practices and/or were acquired without the approval of the ECC; the plaintiff was allegedly in concert with the royal family for purposes of purported corrupt business practices to the detriment of local businesses and the looting of public funds.

Inyatsi was further accused of not being subject to the laws of Eswatini in its business practices to the extent that it was allegedly protected or immune to legal proceedings by virtue of its purported corrupt and unlawful engagements with a minister of the Crown and/or the entire royal family.
It was further alleged by FESBC in the correspondence that the public purse had been cheated millions and/or billions of Emalangeni in taxes, due to Inyatsi’s alleged illicit and unlawful tax practices.


“The said words and or implication as understood by the public locally and internationally were intended to be, and were, wrongful and defamatory,” submitted the plaintiff.  Inyatsi argued that the defendants were bound in law not to make wrongful and untrue statements pertaining to it, whether deliberately, recklessly and/or negligently. In its particulars of claim, Inyatsi told the court that the defendants acted deliberately and/or negligently in one or more of the following respects, in that prior to publishing the release to the ECC, media and the general public, FESBC knew that same contained information that was prima facie and/or impliedly defamatory of the plaintiff.

Inyatsi submitted that the defendants failed to acquaint themselves fully, with the provisions of the Competition Act and also allegedly failed to lodge a complaint against it (plaintiff) with the ECC. The defendants, according to Inyatsi,  also allegedly failed to ascertain the meaning of anti-competitive practices, failed to ascertain whether or not any acquisition made by it had been approved by the relevant regulatory bodies, including the ECC.   

“The defendants knew or ought to have known that publication of untrue, defamatory and wrongful allegations concerning the plaintiff would cause the plaintiff harm and damage both locally and internationally,” submitted Inyatsi. In its court papers, Inyatsi stated that pursuant to the publication of the correspondence, it called upon the FESBC through its (plaintiff) attorneys, to retract the statement and issue an apology, but it allegedly refused. The matter is still pending in court and appearing for the plaintiff is Senior Lawyer Sidumo Mdladla of S.V. Mdladla and Associates.

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