Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) on Sunday night took aim at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), accusing the regulatory agency of failing to return seized telecommunications equipment within a deadline specified by the high court. It has also accused Icasa of causing “malicious damage” to its property.
On Friday night, the high court in Johannesburg granted WBS an urgent interdict, ordering Icasa to return equipment it seized in a raid on six of its facilities in Gauteng on Wednesday which led to extensive downtime on the networks of both iBurst and sister company Broadlink.
WBS stands accused of not paying almost R60m Icasa says in it owes in unpaid radio frequency spectrum licence fees.
According to a statement by WBS and iBurst CEO Thami Mtshali, Friday night’s interdict “prevents Icasa from interfering with the provision of services by iBurst, pending an application by … WBS to declare that it is in possession of lawful licences”.
According to Mtshali’s statement, Icasa “caused serious damage at the company’s data centre, where they vandalised equipment, ripping off servers and router switches worth millions of rands, including the iBurst SMS switch, which sends over five million SMSes a day”.
“This is despite the fact that the data centre was not a part of their search and seizure warrant.”
Mtshali says Icasa caused “malicious damage to iBurst property that was outside of the regulator’s search and seizure warrant”, saying the authority exercised “great negligence” in its raid.
He says the interdict means Icasa “cannot cause any further interruptions in services without the dispute first being resolved”.
At the weekend, Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka warned that the high court interdict granted in favour of WBS on Friday did not exempt the company from its obligations.
“The operator is still required to settle all outstanding radio frequency licence fees,” Maleka said.
He added that Icasa remained “steadfast in its resolve to recover all outstanding radio frequency licence fees from all affected operators”.
“To this end, it urges all those operators who are in arrears with their radio frequency licence fees to engage with and make payment to the authority as a matter of urgency.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
- More to follow on Monday morning