DC to defend M1 million lawsuit
Main opposition party sued for using a minor’s photograph during its election campaign two years ago
The Democratic Congress (DC) has filed a notice to defend a M1 million lawsuit the party has been slapped with by a Maseru resident.
Thuso Moteane, of Mazenod Ha-Ngoatonyane in Maseru, is suing the country’s main opposition political party for putting his minor daughter’s photograph on a campaign billboard ahead of the May 26, 2012 general election, without his or her consent.
The DC, led by Pakalitha Mosisili, failed to win an outright majority of parliamentary seats in the election, ending its leader’s 15-year tenure as prime minister.
In his papers filed before the High Court in April this year, Mr Moteane insists the DC invaded his daughter’s privacy and impaired her dignity through the unauthorised use of the photograph .
However, Mr Moteane does not state the daughter’s exact age or where the billboard was erected, but is demanding M550 000 and M450 000 for invasion of privacy and impairment of dignity, respectively.
Mr Moteane also wants the court to award him the costs of the suit in the event the DC defends the case and ultimately loses it.
Reads the declaration before the court: “The plaintiff has a minor child who studies at Hoohlo Primary School.
“Sometime during the month of May 2012, the defendant (DC) intentionally, wrongfully and unlawfully published the photograph of the plaintiff’s daughter and other students through a billboard without the plaintiff’s consent.
“The publication of the minor child on the billboard constituted an intentional infringement of her right to privacy.
“The defendant also acquainted itself with the personal affairs of the minor child by canvassing for membership with the photograph of a minor child.”
Mr Moteane further argues the DC’s action was wrong and unlawful because his daughter might not want the public to know which political party she is associated with.
“The publication of her photograph on the billboard with the logo of the defendant besides her was unjustified aggression upon her dignity and belittles her in the eyes of the community as she is not even a member of the respondent.
“The minor child is, in fact, much aggrieved and humiliated as she and/or guardian did not even consent to the said publication,” Mr Moteane declares in the court papers.
He further states: “Agents of the defendant wrongfully, unlawfully and intentionally took the photograph of the minor child and published it without the plaintiff’s consent as the father of this young child.
“This should be seen as canvassing as the defendant put its logo besides the child’s photograph for political benefit without the consent of either her parents or her school.”
Mr Moteane further alleges due to the “unlawful” publication, his daughter’s privacy was invaded “in a way that even people who did not know her can now recognise her on the streets and she can no longer enjoy her privacy.”
However, the DC, through its lawyer, Advocate Salemane Phafane (King’s Counsel), on Friday last week filed a notice of appearance in the court, indicating the party would be defending the case.
The notice is not yet accompanied by reasons why the party has decided to oppose the lawsuit. Meanwhile, the court has not yet set a hearing date for the case.