Fashion Law

Africa Fashion Law™: Popular Fashion Designer Koketso Chiepe Imprisoned for Unpaid Bills

Thanks to Moriam Musa of Morsi PR blog, I got wind of this story. It is quite interesting that the Botswana legal system imprisons citizens for unpaid bills, especially where the unpaid bill is owed to a fellow private citizen. In the USA, debtor’s prisons are illegal. However, are there instances where a debtor can still get you thrown in jail? Yes. This happens when a debtor files a lawsuit in court, SERVES you notice of that lawsuit and you fail to appear. When you fail to appear, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest and that will result in the police arresting you and sending you off to jail.

However, if the notice they served you is DEFECTIVE, through your lawyer, you can argue that the notice they served you was defective to begin with. A notice can be defective if it was served to the wrong address or does not follow the requirements set forth in the state’s rules on how a defendant should be served. NOTE: The court when it issues a warrant for your arrest is not deciding on the issue of whether you owe the money claimed. It is simply saying, “don’t think you can disrespect a courtroom or courthouse. When you are told to show up, legally, you do.”

This story, assuming it is indeed true although there is no reason to doubt it, is an unfortunate set of facts for Designer Koketso Chiepe. As a takeaway, designers, remember to always keep in touch with your creditors. The fashion business is a capital intensive business. Consider several financial options including “factoring,” if they are available in your countries and don’t ignore your creditors when you owe money. Talk to your creditors. It makes a difference. You can also hire the services of a lawyer to negotiate down the debt for you.

“Koketso Chiepe wowed Gaborone last year with the inaugural Fashion Night that brought here Hollywood stars in New York model Sessile Lopez, Hollywood actress and model Yaya Dacosta, USA fashion designer and television celebrity Indashio, and Poland-based Motswana television celebrity chef, Joseph Seeletso; but the debts she accumulated for the extravaganza have now landed her in prison.

When she finally breathes fresh air on Wednesday this week albeit momentarily, Chiepe will have spent 20 days and nights at the Gaborone Village prison. On Friday Gaborone West Police’s CID Division confirmed to The Monitor that the fashion designer has been locked up since August 24, further explaining that this was on account of debts that resulted in one of her creditors applying for civil imprisonment.
The globe-trotter who has been living in the United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (US) was locked up on August 24, after one of her creditors (name known to The Monitor) applied for civil imprisonment on the grounds that Chiepe had been playing hide- and-seek after booking flight tickets through them for her celebrity guests for the inaugural Gaborone Fashion Night last year.

The celebrities also included Botswana’s US-based model Kaone Kario, Lopez and Lopez’s mother. On Wednesday, Chiepe will be let out of her prison cell at the Village prison to appear briefly at the Broadhurst Magistrate’s Court, where lawyers acting for the creditors, Isaac Seloko Attorney’s will, among other things, ask the court to confiscate the fashion designer’s travel documents so she does not disappear again.Another creditor, this time a top class hotel in Gaborone, embarrassed Chiepe on the night of this year’s Fashion Weekend that was held last month, when they had the police whisk her away in the middle of the show to Gaborone West Police Station. . .”

The Monitor
has the full Story.

Photocredit: Morsi PR

Ms. Uduak Oduok is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Ladybrille® Magazine. She is also an Attorney and Partner at Ebitu Law Group, P.C, where her practice areas include Business Litigation and Fashion & Entertainment Law. She has counseled a range of clients from musicians, models, actors and actresses to designers on numerous areas of the law including contracts, business law, fashion and entertainment law, copyright, trademark i.e. intellectual property law. She can be reached at ([email protected]) to share/pitch your Africa Fashion Law™ related stories with her. All other inquiries, please visit the for appropriate contact email.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing herein forms an attorney-client relationship. The legal commentary provided is for informational purposes only and is not meant nor should be construed to be legal advice.

Ms. Uduak

Ms. Uduak is best known as an advocate who uses the tools of media and the law to help creatives and businesses clearly articulate their true brand identities, and communicate it to the world through their products and services, to maximize profits. She is a lawyer, speaker, author, journalist, and recognized thought leader, and trailblazer for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States.  She is also the founder and publisher of Ladybrille® Magazine, and an Attorney and Partner at Ebitu Law Group, P.C, where her practice focuses on Fashion, Business, & Entertainment Law and Trials. For more information about her, visit

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