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High Court throws out US$157 000 Windmill suit

By Tendai Rupapa

A bid by fertiliser manufacturer Windmill (Pvt) Ltd to recover US$157 000 from Pioneer Hi-Bred Zimbabwe last week hit a snag after the High Court threw out the claim.

High Court of Zimbabwe
High Court of Zimbabwe

The debt, according to Windmill, accrued from fertilisers sold and supplied to the seed company on credit sometime in June 2013.

In dismissing the suit, Justice Edith Mushore said the fertiliser manufacturing company failed to prove its claim.

“. . . the plaintiff (Windmill [Pvt] Ltd) failed to establish its claim in that the plaintiff did not manage to show the court that Pioneer was connected by contract, credit or by any manner whatsoever that the amount claimed was claimable against defendant (Pioneer),” she said.

“Another issue which was not resolved was why the plaintiff was suing the defendant for claims it ought to have made against those third parties, thereby suggesting that the plaintiff was potentially seeking to unjustly enrich itself.”

According to the judgement, evidence led from Windmill’s witnesses was tainted with hearsay. The court found that the people who had allegedly liaised with the farmers or placed the order for the goods allegedly ordered by the defendant were reluctant to come to court.

“In the circumstances plaintiff’s claim must fail. It is dismissed with costs,” reads the order.

When the fertiliser manufacturing company filed its suit, it detailed its claim in two declarations whereby it first claimed US$92 000 for products allegedly sold directly to Pioneer.

It made a further claim of US$126 864 relating to fertilisers and chemicals allegedly supplied to certain farmers on a contract growing scheme sponsored by Pioneer.

Two of these farmers, Windmill claimed, returned to the defendant inputs worth US$52 584 which inputs were never given back to them by the seed company.

“To date the defendant has paid US$16 920. Owing to the fact that the defendant’s account was outstanding, due and owing the defendant accrued interest in the sum of US$30 360 bringing the balance outstanding to US$157 224,” read part of the claim filed.

Pioneer Hi-Bred denied the claim, stating that it had never been supplied with, neither had Windmill delivered to it the goods cited.

Pioneer Hi-Bred producer denied that it had received returns from two farmers, adding that Windmill had contracted directly with the farmers. The seed company further averred that Windmill was aware of the fraudulent deals between Pioneer former employees who were relieved of their duties and Windmill company, hence should pursue its claim against the said former employees.

In her ruling, Justice Mushore said according to the testimony of Windmill’s sole witness Ms Joan Dunford — its former credit manager, Windmill directly contracted and supplied the inputs to the farmers and had also sued one of them for financial compensation and failed to locate the other.

On the goods allegedly supplied directly to Pioneer, it was established there was no direct evidence that Pioneer had ordered the goods, but instead the dismissed employees had placed the order for those goods via a telephone call. The Herald