Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Police Directed to Probe Windhoek Beer Smuggling

THE Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Dr Eliezer Feleshi, has directed the police to conduct further investigations to establish more charges and evidence that would warrant the prosecution of persons suspected of smuggling Windhoek Lager Beers in Tanzania.

He was reacting to a recent decision by his office to drop a case that was pending at Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam against two businessmen, on a charge of infringement of exclusive rights over importation and distribution of Windhoek beers in the country.

The businessmen, Ambere Mwaseba (38) and Sebastian Kavishe (45), had been arraigned for allegedly infringement of exclusive rights of Mabibo Beer Wines and Spirit Limited (Mabibo) by trading several cartons of the beer brand valued at over 107m/-.

But the charge against them was withdrawn by the prosecution under Section 91 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Act. The DPP said that investigations carried out at the time did not warrant continuing at that stage with the prosecution.

However, the DPP said, "The provision used to drop the charges does not operate as a bar for the Republic to charge them (businessmen) should we get adequate evidence in future.

A criminal case, if any never dies. I have directed the police to conduct further investigations on the matter."

According to him, at the time the charge against the two businessmen was dropped, he was not aware if the existence of a decision issued by Kinondoni District Court, prohibiting anybody from importation and distribution of Windhoek beers in Tanzania without securing consent of Mabibo Company.

It is alleged that a section of businessmen in the country have been importing Windhoek beer from South Africa, where it is claimed that the manufacturer of the beer brand, Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) has given a licence for brewing.

However, legal experts allege that such licence was territorial and could not, thus be allowed for the beers manufactured in South Africa to be sold outside the province.

According to the Trade and Service Trade Marks Act, Trade Mark is one of intellectual property under which is protected under the Act. Lawyers say Windhoek is a Trade Mark registered in the name of Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL), by a Registered User Agreement issued under Trade and Service Mark Act, the NBL was granted exclusive user rights over the products bearing the trade mark Windhoek.

Under such agreement, registered in Tanzania under Trade and Service Marks Act, Mabibo becomes the sole importer and distributor of the beer brand in the country. This right was confirmed by the Kinondoni District Court in 2010.

In the decree issued by Resident Magistrate Sudi Fimbo on October 15, 2010, the court declared, among others, that nobody is allowed to sell in Tanzania market Windhoek beer, which does not bear code number MB66, except where specific written consent of Mabibo has been sought and obtained.

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