A bitter court battle is gradually unfolding in the Johannesburg High Court, involving renowned actress Terry Pheto and children’s toys retailer Greenbean Learning Resources for more than R500 000 that was allegedly lent to her and a business associate four years ago.
The retailer initially instituted legal action for two claims in September last year at the same court, citing that Pheto and another well-known actress and her friend Mampho Brescia refused to honour an agreement to repay amounts of R485 856.88 and R163 348.08, which were start-up costs for a business identified as Let’s Learn Toys.
But the actress says she is ready to defend herself.
“The claims are in their entirety frivolous and vexatious, and we are defending the claims. We have a very strong and unassailable defence to these claims. The matter is in the hands of our lawyer,” she said.
The Academy Award-winning actress subsequently filed a notice to defend the claim in April, disputing the amounts and prompting the matter to be set down for a hearing at the same court on a date still to be determined.
According to the combined summons filed by Greenbean Learning Resources, Pheto and Brescia are in breach of an oral and partly written agreement entered into in May 2017.
“The plaintiff would make payment of the advance in multiple payments as and when required by the company, and these payments would occur either directly to the defendants [Pheto and Brescia] for use in the company, or the plaintiff would pay a supplier or vendor on behalf of the company at the defendants’ special instance request.
“Greenbean Learning Resources would provide the two with stock on consignment, which would be sold by the company on Takealot on their behalf,” read the summons.
The court papers said the agreement stipulated that the proceeds of the sales of the consignment would be used to reimburse the retailer.
“Despite the consignment of stock having been sold by the duo, alternatively, the company [Let’s Learn Toys] failed and/or refused to make payment to Greenbean Learning Resources.”
The papers added that Pheto and Brescia disputed the existence of a contract between the parties.
However, according to a sworn affidavit deposed by Greenbean Learning Resources chief executive Lesley Kekana, the company is in possession of documents and invoices that confirm the existence of a written agreement.
Pheto disputed the validity of the documents, which were mainly invoices, through a special plea affidavit.
“There was no agreement between the plaintiff and the defendants, and therefore there was no material … At no point did the plaintiff make advanced amounts to the defendants.
“The defendants deny requesting the plaintiff to make payments on behalf of the company to suppliers…
“The plaintiff has not provided the defendants with any consignment of stock to sell on behalf of the company on Takealot,” reads her answering plea.
Pheto said that the Johannesburg-based retailer had failed to provide proof of the loan agreement.
She asked the court to dismiss the application with costs.