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Tshwane sues TribeOne organisers over cancelled festival

2014-12-01 10:03

Pretoria - The fight over the cancelled TribeOne Dinokeng music festival, which boasted Nicki Minaj as a headline act, is heading back to court.

The City of Tshwane says it plans to sue the MD of Sony Music Entertainment Africa, Sean Watson, and RockStar 4000 director Johann Louw in their personal capacities to recover the R25m paid out to the two organisers of the festival.

This is on top of the R18m the city says it spent delivering infrastructure on the proposed site for the festival, in Cullinan outside Pretoria.

The city says because Sony and RockStar 4000 have refused to submit to arbitration, it is going the legal route and expects to serve its summons on Watson and Louw next month.

The festival featured hundreds of international and local acts and was set to be held between 26 and 28 September. It was cancelled at the 11th hour.


City Press tried repeatedly to get comment from Watson and Louw, but received only a brief letter from Watson, in which he said answering questions would mean disclosing information that is key to the duo’s legal strategy.

"Regrettably, we cannot respond to questions that could potentially jeopardise any of the parties concerned, owing to the sensitive nature of the case that’s currently under legal review," Watson wrote.

In a statement to City Press, the city said: "The directors responsible for Sony’s failure, Watson and Louw, will be sued in their personal capacities as they knowingly participated in the reckless manner in which Sony’s business was conducted.

"Watson and Louw recklessly conducted Sony’s business by accepting payment from the city, including the third payment of R10m in August 2014, knowing that Sony did not have the funds to produce the festival."

The newest leg of the legal battle follows the city’s attempt in September to force the promoters to go ahead with the festival.

Then, in an affidavit lodged before the North Gauteng High Court, Tshwane accused Louw, Watson and their respective companies of:

» Delivering final infrastructure requirements less than a month before the festival date;

» Asking the City to violate financial regulations by repurposing money for infrastructure to book artists;

» Informing the City on September 3 it had sold just 4 000 tickets when it planned to sell 100 000; and
» Not conducting an environmental impact assessment as agreed in the contract, then saying in July 2014 it had no funds to do this.

Denied allegations

In the joint venture’s responding affidavit at the time, Louw denied most of Tshwane’s allegations and countered with several of his own.

He claimed it was the city that chose the site for the festival, not the joint venture as stated in the city’s affidavit, and that the city confirmed it owned the land.

Louw said it emerged in February 2014 that 40% of the land was owned by Petra Diamonds.

"This late discovery regarding ownership of the site resulted in various delays being incurred," he said in his affidavit.

Attached to Louw’s affidavit is a letter from Petra Diamonds dated 16 September 2014, which states there is no signed lease agreement between the mining company and the city for the festival.

The city says Petra Diamonds wrote a letter in which it used the land as leverage in a claim it had against its erstwhile municipality, which was merged with the City of Tshwane.

The city said the festival was never in jeopardy because of threats from Petra Diamonds.

"If there were any truth in Sony’s contention that Petra Diamonds had objected to the festival being staged on the site in issue, it would have been reckless for Sony not to move the festival to a different site," Tshwane told City Press.

"It was precisely because there was no real threat that Sony continued to plan the festival on this site that it had identified."


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