The purpose of this memorandum and petition is to raise the level of awareness about the context of the situation and plight of Mr Sello Tsolo, a citizen of South Africa who has been stuck in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the past nine (9) years without justifiable reasons, and to secure his release and be reunited with his family.
He is currently staying at the Embassy of SA in Abu Dhabi together with other two fellow South Africans in similar situation, but they are responsible for all their personal needs, including food, clothes and medical treatment to mention a few.
He went to Ajman, UAE in June 2013 while working for Setsoto Local Municipality as a Project Manager for Setsoto Integrated Dairy Project. He went there at the invitation of a certain Amit Lamba, an Indian national he signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with when he was in South Africa as an “investor”. Amit Lamba was to invest R 675 million in the project in return for 60% shareholding in the project. Mr Tsolo went to Ajman to facilitate and to oversee the transfer of the funds as requested by Amit Lamba, but he ended up in Ajman Central prison because of a fraudulent debt of 480 000 AED (R 1.92 million) where he spent 27 months. What is troubling is that the court papers say he owes Shweta Tyagi, who he has never dealt with, also an Indian national who happened to be Amit Lamba’s associate. What is even more concerning is that the “acknowledgement of debt” papers he signed in “Court” on the morning of the 27th June 2013, were prepared even before he could leave South Africa on the 26th June 2013, a clear evidence of premeditated fraud.
Travel ban and Passport
His passport was fraudulently taken by Amit Lamba and deposited with Ajman court without his knowledge and permission. In the process, Amit Lamba imposed a travel ban on him, thereby preventing him to return home.
After his release from prison on the 29th March 2016, Mr Tsolo was not allowed to leave the country before he could pay the 480 000 AED (R 1.92 million) he went to prison for.
Together with his wife, Mr Tsolo tried everything legally possible to resolve the matter, including the use of the law firm, Al Kaitoob Advocates based in Dubai to no avail. The law firm failed dismally to use their legal expertise, position and status to help him. In the process, they lost hundreds of thousands of rands in legal and maintenance costs, while his wife continues the with the struggle to survive without his most needed support.
After his release from prison, he went to Ajman Court many times to try and get the matter resolved, only to be told that the only solution is to pay the money. The fact of the matter is, Mr Tsolo doesn’t owe Amit Lamba or his partner Shweta Tyagi anything and he has not been found guilty by the court of law as it is usually alleged by Dirco (Department of International Relations and Corporation) officials when giving update on Mr Tsolo’s case/situation. At the moment, Mr Tsolo doesn’t have any legal recourse to resolve his legal quagmire on his own to be able to come back home.
The only remaining viable option is the diplomatic solution, which has not been explored fully by our government, although Mr Tsolo and his two fellow South Africans are staying at the SA Embassy in Abu Dhabi. What we do know, according to Mr Tsolo himself is that the SA Embassy initiated diplomatic engagement with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) back in 2017 when they first came to the Embassy.
The Embassy sent numerous diplomatic communications (note verbale) stating their situation and requesting that they be allowed to come back home. Ambassador Saad Cachalia had meetings with MOFA officials and even invited the UAE Ambassador to SA to come and see where they were staying in the Embassy.
There was hope that the matter will finally be settled, but things went dead without any explanation, and were later told that they must pay the money if they want to go back home. Dirco is always saying that it can’t interfere in personal cases, but what they should be doing is to intervene on behalf of their citizens who do not have any legal power and recourse, not interfere. It has happened in many cases of South Africans stuck in different countries for various reasons, including some arrested for drug trafficking. Why can’t government intervene in a case that is clearly fraudulent and has been going on for almost ten (10) years?
Given the above background, it is very clear that Mr Tsolo won’t be coming home any time soon or in the future, unless he pays the money that he does not owe and not have.
Mr Tsolo is now 61 years old and depending on the goodwill of some good South Africans and the church for survival, while his wife and family are struggling to make ends meet. Mr Tsolo was working on an important community project, that would change the lives and fortunes of the local community, the project that was initiated by Setsoto Local Municipality and supported by the Free State Department of Agriculture.
Mr Tsolo’s mother passed on in 2019 and he could not come home to pay his last respect and bury his mother. We are therefore asking the government or Presidential intervention and let Mr Tsolo come back home to his family and community.
1. Dirco must give official position of government on Mr Tsolo’s case
2. Reasons why government can’t intervene to help a stranded South African (Mr Tsolo and two other fellow South Africans) in a foreign country to come back home.
3. What efforts has the government (Dirco) made to help Mr Tsolo and other two fellow South Africans?
4. Does government know that the case against Mr Tsolo is fraudulent and that Amit Lamba who invited him to the UAE is a fraudster who defrauded many other people in Africa and India?
5. Does government know that Amit Lamba was imprisoned in his home country India for one year because of defrauding people in India? The story was carried by The Times of India on the 4th July 2016. https://m-timesofindia-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/m.timesofindia.com/city/chandigarh/rohtak-man-held-for conning-doctor-with-dubai- dream/amp_articleshow/53037380.cms?
6. Was government aware that he was in South Africa claiming to be a billion Dollar Investor who was invited by former President Zuma to invest R 10 billion in South Africa, and that he is not even a millionaire or run any legitimate business?
Family, Friends and Community