The court has been without its maroon curtains for more than a month, something which has been a talking point among the staff, as a company last month took the curtains and tie-backs with them - more than 722 in total.
The mystery of the curtainless windows prevailed until this week when it came to light that the small closed corporation which holds the new contract to clean the curtains on behalf of the court had a dispute with the dry-cleaners.
The owner of Phindzola Trading & Projects CC said Rainbow Dry Cleaners, who had to do the actual washing, did not want to release the curtains.
Jonas Kekana, managing director of the closed corporation, said in court papers the dry-cleaners never issued his company with the bill. It instead sent an inflated bill directly to the office of the chief justice to pay.
He said it was clear that the dry-cleaners wanted to sidestep him and “steal” his deal with the court.
Kekana asked the court to order the dry-cleaners to immediately release 722 items of curtains - laces and curtain ties.
He also wanted the dry-cleaners to be forced to issue him with the invoice for the cleaning.
This, he said, must be based on the weight of the curtains which were cleaned and per his prior agreement with the cleaning services.
He said he was eager to pay the bill and to return the curtains, as per his agreement with the court.
Kekana stated that he is the bona fide service provider of the office of the chief justice, under which the High Court falls.
He entered into a subcontractor agreement with the dry-cleaners.
Kekana said as far as he could ascertain, the owner of the dry-cleaners tendered for the same job at court as him. He was, however, last month told that he had won the bid.
He said in terms of the deal, he had to remove the curtains at the court as well as at the Palace of Justice. They had to be dry-cleaned and re-hung within two months. But the court asked him to have the curtains back in their place by the end of last month.
There were large curtains - which each weighed 3.4kg and smaller curtains which each weighed 1.6kg. There were also a number of lace curtains and tiebacks which were not weighed.
“I would have received payment from my client once the entire job had been finalised and the curtains had been re-hung in the offices. The respondent ( dry-cleaners) would in turn receive payment from me.”
Kekana said he calculated by taking the weight of the curtains into consideration, that he would, at the most, have to pay the dry-cleaners a total of R95 224.
But it came to his attention that the dry-cleaners directly invoiced his client the amount of R193840. 71.
He said this clearly grossly exceeded his own quote to his client, which was R119852 for the entire job (including removing the curtains and transporting the six loads with his bakkie to the dry-cleaners).
He said as the dry-cleaners refused payment for the job done, his attorney wrote a letter to them.
“My attorney received an email reply from them stating ‘bring it on.’”
Kekana said it was clear that the dry-cleaners wanted to hijack his contact.
The dry-cleaners did not state their side.
Judge Daisy Molefe ordered the dry cleaners to immediately release the curtains and to allow the applicant to pay a reasonable amount for the job done.