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Diplomat faces arrest

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — The Honorary Consul for Denmark in Lesotho, Kuena Phafane, faces arrest for contempt of court a few weeks after he escaped being slapped with a similar charge.

Phafane last month allegedly shoved a messenger of court who had gone to his office to deliver a court order, telling him that he could only be seen through an appointment.

Phafane allegedly did not listen to the messenger’s plea that he should obey the courts but instead pushed him out of his office.

The diplomat was however not charged with contempt of court.

But the diplomat’s troubles appear far from over after a Maseru lawyer, Seotsanyana Seotsanyana, filed another application in the magistrate’s court seeking Phafane’s arrest.

Phafane is being accused of defying a court order to open the offices of the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) for the association’s staff.

Seotsanyana said a messenger of the magistrate’s court was on Monday given summons to serve Phafane.

“We have not received the return of service from the messenger of court,” Seotsanyana said.

Seotsanyana confirmed he was now seeking the arrest of Phafane for contempt of court.

Phafane, who is the LCCI president, in April changed the padlocks to the LCCI head office gates in Maseru to prevent the staff and other senior members of the association from entering the premises.

He also changed the locks to the offices.

Phafane also deployed private guards at the office’s main gate to prevent employees and other members of the association from entering the premises.

This followed a clash that Phafane had with other members of the LCCI over the running of the organisation.

Members of the LCCI executive committee had however approached the magistrate’s court and got a court order directing Phafane to reopen the offices for use by the organisation’s officials.

Phafane, after expelling a court messenger who had come to his office to serve him with the court order, avoided a contempt of court charge after he complied by opening the doors to the officers.

But the organisation’s executive secretary Lebeko Notsi says Phafane’s compliance with the court order was a mockery because LCCI office furniture and other official documents had allegedly been removed by Phafane without the knowledge of the executive committee.

A Security Lesotho truck was seen carrying the LCCI’s property from the office.

It was on this basis that the aggrieved members of the LCCI executive committee engaged Seotsanyana’s services to charge Phafane with contempt of court.

“Phafane has made a fool of us. What he has done is tantamount to a mockery of the court order,” he said.

“How could he remove all valuable office property including all important files and then open the office for us pretending to have obeyed the court order?”

Phafane has been at loggerheads with Notsi and other members of the executive committee after Notsi allegedly reported “the president’s wrongdoings” to the national executive committee.

Notsi reported to the committee that Phafane and two other senior LCCI members had registered a private company in the LCCI’s name.

Notsi says he has been unable to get the full details about the company because the registrar of companies had refused to divulge the information about the company.

He said when Phafane discovered that the LCCI executive committee had launched investigations against him he decided to bar everybody from the office “so that he could have access to documents that were to be presented at the annual general meeting”.

He said a day before they were locked out of the offices in April, the LCCI’s national executive committee was already planning to take measures against Phafane.

Notsi said Phafane brought the LCCI’s secretariat work to an abrupt halt in the middle of preparations for the holding of the association’s annual general meeting which was scheduled for April 18 and 19.

He said the meeting was going to elect a new national executive committee including a new president.

Notsi said he believed Phafane foresaw that the meeting would turn the tables against him hence his move to thwart preparations to hold it.

Efforts to contact Phafane yesterday were not successful.

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