The Competition Tribunal has granted the Competition Commission a postponement in a case of alleged cartel behaviour in the panel beating sector, to allow the commission to secure the testimony of an asylum seeker.
The commission applied for a postponement in the long-running case in February when its key witness, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker in the US, was prevented from boarding a plane to South Africa to testify in the matter.
His US refugee travel documents did not comply with South African legislation and regulations.
The asylum seeker is considered a crucial witness for the commission. He previously worked for one of the companies allegedly implicated in the case.
Two panel beating companies had opposed the commission’s application for a postponement. They argued that the case had been ongoing for a very long time and that they had incurred a great deal of costs.
The tribunal, however, said it was satisfied that the commission’s application had been made in good faith and was justified.
It also found that the broad public interest requires a postponement in this matter.
“. . . the hearing must go ahead so that the allegations can be fully ventilated in the public interest and to give the respondents an opportunity of responding to and defending themselves against the commission’s cartel allegations against them,” it said.