FNB seeks absolution from client’s arrest case

Lesotho Times
5 Min Read

MASERU — The First National Bank (FNB) has applied for absolution from a case in which it is being sued for humiliating and instigating the “unlawful arrest” of a client.

Petlane Petlane is claiming that he suffered M15 million in damages after he was allegedly manhandled out of FNB’s banking hall by two police officers who had been called by a senior bank official on August 29, 2009.

He claims the bank’s branch manager, Rets’elisitsoe Ts’osane, instigated his arrest. This, he alleges, was because his girlfriend who worked at the bank was rejecting advances from Ts’osane.

Petlane accused Ts’osane of laying false charges against him at the Maseru Central Charge Office.

As a result Petlane is suing the FNB, Ts’osane, and the Commissioner of Police.

But FNB now says it should be excluded from the lawsuit.

Advocate Philip Loubser on Monday made an application before Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase to absolve the bank (first respondent) and Ts’osane (second respondent).

His main argument is that Petlane has not proven that the bank did anything wrong and that Petlane had lied in his evidence to the court.  “No reasonable court can find in favour of the plaintiff on the evidence placed before it,” Loubser submitted.

Loubser said Petlane himself had conceded that the policemen may receive absolution in cross-examination because the video footage showed they did nothing wrong.

“If that is the case there is obviously nothing left against the bank as well,” Loubser submitted.

He further asked the court that the application to absolve the defendants be granted with costs.

Loubser said in terms of Court Rule 41 (6) a defendant may apply for absolution at the close of the plaintiff case.

“The only question in such an application is whether, at the close of the plaintiff’s case, there was such evidence before the court upon which a reasonable court might, not should, give judgment against the defendant.”

“No evidence was presented by the plaintiff relating to these false charges at the police station nor were any statements by second defendant (Ts’osane) handed in to show the falsity of any charges laid at the police station,” Loubser said.

He said in the plaintiff’s papers, it is alleged that he was manhandled, degraded, humiliated and insulted by the two policemen in the bank and had his dignity impaired as a result.

“He alleges that all the foregoing is attributable to the false, intention etc, alarm raised by the second defendant.”

Loubser further said it is alleged that Petlane’s manhandling by the police was caused by the bank.

“In other words, the impairment of dignity did not arise from the call to the police only, but also from the conduct of the police,” he said. “To put it differently, without humiliating conduct by the police, there is no cause of action against the
bank,” he submitted.

Loubser submitted that the defendants had demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that Petlane’s version describing the conduct of the police is not the truth.

“In fact, it is a blatant lie, it is submitted that the court cannot find for plaintiff in this respect,” he said.

In his brief submission, Advocate Letuka Molati argued that his client Petlane had led his own evidence and was cross-examined and re-examined and thereafter closed his case. “Plaintiff was in the defendants’ bank on the material time,” Molati
said, mentioning that it was Ts’osane who reported that the police should come to the bank to arrest Petlane.

Molati said it is the police case that the reporting by the bank’s manager was false and misleading and had it not been but for that false reporting the police could not have interfered with his client.

Molati submitted that when the facts of the case in conjunction with others which the court had recorded, it is not proper at this stage to put an end to these proceedings by granting the application for absolution from the instance. “We pray that in the circumstances, the application for absolution from the instance should be dismissed with costs,” he said in concluding his submissions.

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