Swazis turn away South African asbestos mine bidders

Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- South Africans were among bidders turned away from a weekend auction for an asbestos mine in Swaziland after the government in that country lodged an urgent interdict to prevent the sale.
Throngs of South African and Swazi bidders interested buyers of the liquidated Bulembu Asbestos Mine were turned away on Friday and Saturday after the government filed an urgent court application.
The move was reportedly an attempt by the Swazi government to protect its citizens from unscrupulous deals involving South Africans.
"The Swaziland government was concerned that Swazis were being prejudiced in that the sale was advertised earlier in the South African press than the local press," said Rael Levitt the Auction Alliance chief executive on Tuesday.
The auction's postponement followed an eleventh hour court order issued by the Mbabane High Court.
The postponed sale was widely debated in the Swazi Parliament as well as reported in the newspapers in Swaziland.
The Police at the Bulembu Police Station said that the auctioneers, Auction Alliance, turned away those who were not aware of the Court Application and informed them of the postponement.
On Friday last week, Swaziland's finance minister Majozi Sithole, assured King Mswati III that the auction would not take place while Attorney General Phessayea Dlamini filed the application in the High Court.
The Swazi government did not want the auction to take place for a a number of reasons, including the controversy surrounding the ongoing case against Asbestos Miner --Cape PLC.
The government said it was also concerned about the possibility that Swaziland would be losing assets to foreign purchasers.
In terms of the court order, the sale will go ahead on 7 and 8 June 2002.
But High Court Judge, Justice Jacob Annandale further warned the auctioneers to advertise in the local Swazi newspapers, 'The Times' of Swaziland and 'The Swazi Observer' for three dates and not later than 24 May 2002.
The auctioneers were also ordered to advertise once in the government gazette.
Justice Annandale ordered the government to be responsible for the cost of advertising in Swaziland and in South Africa.
The government in Mbabane said the South African creditors in the mine went ahead with plans to auction equipment at the mine even though government complained that it was not being properly consulted.
The government said that advertising was also placed in the South African media, which gave undue advantage to foreigners over Swazis.

21 may 2002 21:22:00

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