THE High Court has nullified a Magistrate’s Court order compelling Moafrika FM Editor-in-Chief, Ratabane Ramainoane, to release recordings of certain programmes to a police officer probing the radio station for defamation.
This was after Magistrate Monyake Hlabanyane ordered Mr Ramainoane to release six copies of news bulletins and radio programmes to Detective Police Constable Lethoko on 8 September 2017.
The police had applied for the order as part of an ongoing defamation investigation.
Part of Mr Hlabanyane’s order reads: “It is hereby ordered that the editor in Chief of MoAfrika FM Radio Station (Mr Ramainoane) to make and release, on or before 11th September 2017 as 0900hrs, copies of News Bulletin and Radio Programmes to the investigator (Detective Police Constable Lethoko) which were broadcast on the said Radio Station on the following dates and time as shown hereunder…”
The dates are 28-29 August 2017; 4-5 September 2017 and 5-6 September 2017.
But Mr Ramainoane filed an urgent application before the High Court on 10 September 2017 to block the execution of the magistrate’s order.
In his affidavit before the High Court to challenge the Magistrate’s Court order, Mr Ramainoane says: “To my great shock and surprise in the afternoon of Friday 8th September, 2017 around 3:00pm First Respondent’s order describing me as ‘the accused’ was brought to my attention by one of the members of staff of MoAfrika FM.
“The order was directing me to release to 2nd respondent (Detective Police Constable Lethoko) copies of certain News Bulletin and Radio Programmes; attached to the said order was an affidavit deposed to by second respondent.”
He continues: “The said order was not preceded by any form of court process; neither was I afforded opportunity to make representations before 1st respondent (Magistrate’s Court) could issue the said order.”
Mr Ramainoane also argues that the process of issuing the order was riddled with “irregularities, improprieties and illegalities”.
High Court judge, Justice Semapo Peete, then made an interim order suspending the magistrate’s ruling until the application had been finalised.
On Monday, Justice Peete made a final order nullifying the magistrate’s order on the grounds that it was made without following due processes of law, as stated by Mr Ramainoane.
The judge nullified the magistrate’s order after Mr Ramainoane’s lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda KC told the court that he had reached an agreement with the lawyer representing the government.
“My Lord, I have conferred with my learned friend for the respondents, Advocate Moshoeshoe and we have agreed that the last part of prayer 1(c) in the notice of motion be made a final order of this honourable court.
“We are only left with the issue of costs,” he said.
The last part of prayer 1 (c) reads: “Declaring same (order) as null and void and of no consequence.”
Advocate Moshoeshoe also confirmed that they had agreed as Advocate Mda told the court.
Justice Peete then said: “Following the agreement by counsel on both sides it is ordered that prayer 1(c) remain the final order of this court.”
Mr Ramainoane was arrested at the High Court premises on 15 September 2017 over what the police said was in relation to defamation claims against him.
He was released the same day and the police have since said they would take him to court to face defamation charges. They are yet to reveal the identity of the person who lodged the complaint against Mr Ramainoane.