17 March 2014

Tanzania: DPP Probes Beer Smuggling Racket

THE prosecutions are still collecting more evidence to pin down the persons suspected of smuggling Windhoek Lager Beers into Tanzania, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr Eliezer Mbuki Feleshi, has said.

"As far as I am concerned, the matter is still under investigation. There are some essential documentary exhibits that are being studied before taking further steps," the DPP told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam at the weekend.

Dr Feleshi was giving some progress and follow-up information on the directive that he issued late last year. He directed the police to conduct further investigations to establish more charges and evidence that would warrant the prosecution of Windhoek Lager Beer smugglers.

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 be allowed for the beers manufactured in South Africa to be sold outside the province. According to the Trade and Service Trade Marks Act, a trade mark is one of intellectual properties under which is protected under the Act.

Lawyers say that Windhoek is a trade mark registered in the name 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 Windhoek beer in Tanzania.

An Independent International Consultant with Mabibo, Mr James Rugemalira, said that such 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 a specific written consent of Mabibo has been sought and obtained.

"It is ordered that the defendant, its owners, agents, directors, servants and other unknown person who are directly or indirectly related to the defendant be permanently restrained from importing Windhoek Premium Lager beer where they have not formally applied and obtained written consent of Mabibo."

The court warned that failure or refusal by the defendant, its owners, agents, directors, servants and other unknown persons who are directly or indirectly related to the defendant or any other persons, to comply with the prohibition orders shall amount to contempt of the orders of this court.

Recently, Mabibo announced to continue enforcing its decree in question, following a decision by the Fair Competition Tribunal (FCT) to the effect that the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) had not issued any decision capable of being revised, but was still conducting investigations on the matter.

"Mabibo will among other measures intensify pursuit of its criminal complaint against those who are disobeying the court's decree," said Mr Rugemalira.

He pointed out that Mabibo was not a dominant player in the Tanzania beer market as defined by the Fair Competition Act and, therefore, it was entitled to enter into any exclusive agreements with Namibia Breweries Limited on the importation and distribution of Windhoek Beer.


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