High court cancels ICASA warrant

The High Court in East London has set aside a warrant to seize equipment from a telecommunications company that failed to pay its annual licensing fee.

The warrant had been obtained by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa).

Icasa officials raided the premises of Amatole Telecommunications Services on Wednesday, confiscating and sealing equipment after the company failed to pay a debt on its licensing fee.

Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka said on Thursday Amatole had agreed to pay off its debt over a seven-month period.

“Two payments were made, but Amatole has since defaulted on the payment arrangement, which invalidated such agreement,” said Maleka.

Amatole did not deny owing Icasa, but said its lawyers were not made aware of the raid.

Operations director Mark Gray said the company had repeatedly requested to meet Icasa to discuss payment plans, but had not obtained a response.

He said Icasa confirmed receiving the request for a meeting after three failed attempts, but they had not been warned of a raid.

Gray said shortly after the High Court suspended the raid, the company resumed operations with no disturbances.

He said Amatole would fight Icasa “tooth and nail” before the company was shut down.

The two parties were expected to appear in the High Court in East London again on May 29.

Gray said telecommunications companies were frustrated by Icasa’s inconsistency.

Last month, wireless internet provider iBurst had its premises raided by Icasa for apparently not paying its radio frequency spectrum licenses.

iBurst said it was in the middle of negotiations with Icasa when the raid took place.

Mobile operator Cell C has also denied that it has outstanding fees owed to Icasa.

“Cell C has never been advised by Icasa that it owes R107.3 million or any other amount in outstanding licence fees, and accordingly Cell C denies that it owes this amount,” the company said in a statement on its website.

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High court cancels ICASA warrant