In a rather perplexing turn of events, the Managing Director of Turnstar Holdings, Gulaam Husain Abdoola, is threatening to wage war on the Sunday Standard weekly for what he terms a vicious and unprecedented attack on him.
It has emerged that Abdoola is suing for damages to the tune of P20 million. Although he says he has not yet received any legal papers from Abdoola, Sunday Standard Director, and Deputy Editor Spencer Mogapi says they will fight whatever litigation comes their way to the bitter end.
“We have heard about his press conference. We have not seen his court documents. At least not yet. In the absence of those papers, there’s not much I can say except to assure you that the Sunday Standard will vigorously defend the lawsuit when the comes,” Mogapi said in an interview.
This week, a visibly shaken Abdoola addressed a press conference at Hilton Garden Inn in Gaborone where he sought to set the record straight and clear his name of any wrongdoing in the company’s failed Dubai investment. Addressing the press in his personal capacity, the Turnstar MD made it clear that he was speaking on behalf of himself and that the Turnstar Board would respond in whatever way it deems fit should it compelled to.
Giving an update on the matter, Abdoola told journalists that during the month of November he received a call from the Sunday Standard editor, Outsa Mokone, whilst he was away in Cape Town. He said Mokone informed him that they were following a story that had broken in one of the newspapers in Dubai and wanted to get his view.
When he arrived back, a meeting was arranged where Mokone brought along his deputy editor and co-founder of the publication, Spencer Mogapi, for a 45-minute interview where he explained everything to the two and highlighted how court processes in Dubai are different from Botswana. Abdoola said there were two subsequent meetings with the SS editors before the publication published its first article about him. “At first I thought it was a joke,” he said. However, he went on say how the SS mounted were vicious and personal attacks on him in four editions. “This attack on me is unprecedented and very unusual,” Abdoola said.
As the story unfolded, he said, a responding press release was issued and they wrote to the newspaper to retract. But because “each week it gets nastier”, it necessitated banning sale of Sunday Standard at his filling stations by himself. “I am also human,” said defending his decision to ban the SS. “I am not made of steel (and) this caused me and my family unprecedented pain.”
Abdoola told journalists that the articles are misleading and are put together in such a way that it appears as a smear campaign under the guise of investigative journalism. But what for? Perhaps thus query should have been answered during the press conference. In addition, Abdoola emphasised that he is free to defend his integrity, saying he is not scared of anything.
Even so, the irony is that the MD concedes four facts carried in the stories. Among them he confirmed that Turnstar Holdings invested in Dubai and that they trusted the wrong people. But even on this point, he would not go into much detail save to issue threats to the weekend broadsheet. “Every week they publish I will sue them for P5 million,” he added. The clearly sorrowed Abdoola said to hurt Turnstar is to hurt him. “The attack on me is unprecedented and my defence will be unprecedented,” he pressed on.
Reiterating that he had called the press conference in his personal capacity and not as the MD of Turnstar Holdings, he emphasised that he would deal with the paper through the courts.
Meanwhile, what caught everyone by surprise was that Abdoola would not field questions from the media, not even from reporter from the Sunday Standard who were present. Turnstar’s single largest investor and founding member of the company explained his bizarre behaviour by saying will deal with media enquiries as and when they came because his lawyers had advised against taking questions at the press conference.
Responding to the Sunday Standard articles headed “Pensioners/ Stockholders fleeced in Turnstar Holdings Dubai shady Deal” and “Inside how Turnstar Board Members wined and dined Pensioners’ Money away” in the edition dated 5-11 December 2021, a press release from Abdoola dated 7 December 2021 described the articles as sensationalist and defamatory. “I categorically reject and deny any allegation of wrongdoing, whether in relation to the so-called ‘commission’ I am supposed to have received and/or the ludicrous allegation that I have somehow mislead the Turnstar Board (of which I have the full and ongoing support) in relation to certain property transactions in Dubai,” the press release said.
Abdoola added that he and Turnstar had instituted criminal and civil legal proceedings against against individuals who have allegedly committed fraud. “My lawyers in Dubai have clear evidence of the existence of other fraudulent documents produced by these parties, which is suggestive that the production of fraudulent documents is part and parcel of the modus operandi of such parties,” he noted.