Stink over flowers for Cansa

2015-11-06 11:50

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Pietermaritzburg - The name of the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) has been dragged into a high court matter where it is alleged that a flower seller has abused its name for fraudulent purposes.

In terms of an interim interdict granted on Thursday, Durbanite Vanessa Willemse has been temporarily stopped from plying her trade in soft toys and flowers at KZN coffee shops and restaurants pending the final outcome of the legal dispute.

Papers before Judge Isaac Madondo claimed that not only was Willemse contravening a restraint of trade agreement with business owner Hendrik Roux (trading as Rosebud Flower Sellers), but she allegedly continued selling stock in the name of Cansa without giving the organisation any revenue.

The judge granted an interim interdict against Willemse, denying her the right to trade in Durban, Verulam, Umhlanga, Empangeni, Richards Bay, the district of Umzinto, Port Shepstone, Pinetown, Stanger, Ballito, Camperdown, Pietermaritzburg, Ashburton, and the Lions River district, including Howick and the Midlands Meander but excluding Mooi River.

She has until December 3 to show why the interdict should not be made final.

Roux, from Pinetown, said in an affidavit his business buys bulk soft toys like teddy bears, small toys, keyrings and fresh roses from certain suppliers.

By getting permission from a charity organisation like Cansa, he is entitled to use their name to sell his goods.

In return, Cansa receives 10% of the turnover.

Roux said he enters into agreements with sub-contractors, like Willemse, who visit restaurants and coffee shops and sell the goods to their customers.

The sub-contractors receive a commission.

“Cansa is at any time entitled to audit the books … to ensure it receives 10% of the turnover,” said Roux.

Willemse had worked for him as a sub-contractor from around 2007, and learnt how his business trades and “how to do it successfully”.

He alleges that in 2011 she signed a restraint of trade agreement valid for a year after their agreement ends.

Roux said his business does not trade on Sundays, but in June this year he discovered that Willemse was selling his stock on these days to various restaurants in Durban without accounting to him for the sales.

To make sure of his facts he visited restaurants and viewed CCTV footage that showed Willemse selling his wares on Sundays.

Roux regarded this as fraud as she had misrepresented to the restaurants and customers that she was representing him and the interests of Cansa in doing so.

Meanwhile, she allegedly fraudulently benefitted herself, he said.

Roux laid a charge of fraud, but said to his knowledge no further steps were taken against her, or a decision was made not to prosecute her.

On June 29 this year, he confronted Willemse and ended his contract with her.

Roux said, however, that Willemse was “undeterred” and continued selling the stock she should have returned when the agreement was terminated.

He had confirmed that Cansa had not received any revenue from Willemse while she sold goods in the Durban area using the organisation’s name.

According to Roux, he had provided Willemse with a document issued by Cansa (called a tag), which authorised her to sell his goods and made it clear that Cansa was benefiting.

He said she had lied to him that she had destroyed the document when he asked her to return it, and alleges she is still using the tag.

Judge Madondo agreed with Roux’s advocate, Chris Snyman, that Roux would suffer financial prejudice if Willemse was allowed to continue trading pending the outcome of the case.

The judge refused a request for Willemse to be entitled to continue trading temporarily in two areas in Morningside and Umhlanga.

The court was told she had no other means of earning an income to feed her family, and that she alleges that the restraint of trade agreement before court was “a different agreement” to the one she had signed in 2011.

The judge said this could only be decided at trial.

Read more on:    cansa  |  durban  |  pietermaritzburg

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