Diplomat roughs up court official

MASERU — A diplomat could find himself in trouble after he allegedly pushed and shoved a messenger of court who had come to his office to deliver a court order.

Kuena Phafane, the honorary consulate for Denmark who is also the president of the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), could now face arrest for contempt of court.

The court messenger had gone to Phafane’s office to deliver a court order ordering him to open the gate for the staff of the LCCI whom he had chased and barred from the office following a bitter wrangle over the control of the association.

Last month Phafane allegedly broke the doors to the LCCI offices in Maseru West and changed locks so that the staff and other senior executive members of the association could not use the office.

He also changed the locks to the gate and ordered security guards to bar any of the LCCI officials from entering the premises.

This followed a fight that he had had with the executive members of the LCCI over the use of funds and corporate governance issues.

The executive member had however rushed to court and got a temporary order compelling Phafane to reopen the office for the employees to use.

But when the messenger of court went to deliver the order on May 4 he incurred the wrath of Phafane who allegedly pushed him out of his office and told him that he could only be met “through an appointment”.

Phafane is alleged to have first requested some time to consult his legal team before receiving the order but when the messenger of court insisted that he should receive the court order first before he contacts his lawyer he got angry.

He is alleged to have told the messenger of court to get out of his office before shoving him towards the door.

It is alleged that Phafane, still angry, then threw the messenger out of his office.

The Lesotho Times understands that the messenger has since submitted a report on the incident to the Sheriff of Court.

It is an offence to harass court messengers.

If the Sheriff of Court decides to press charges Phafane could find himself in serious trouble and in danger of being sent to jail.

The LCCI executive secretary, Lebeko Nots’i, told the Lesotho Times that he witnessed the incident as Phafane manhandled the court official.

Nots’i said Phafane had “pushed the messenger out of his office”.

 “The messenger of court tried to reason with him but he did not listen,” Nots’i said.

“He said he could only be seen after an appointment and therefore could not listen to the court messenger because he had not set an appointment with him,” Nots’i added.

Nots’i said he had gone with the messenger of court to Phafane’s office because he was expecting him to obey the court order and open the office for the LCCI officials to resume their work.

From Phafane’s office the court messenger went to Security Lesotho, the company that provides security services to LCCI.

The messenger was to hand a court order to Security Lesotho but the company officials allegedly locked him out.

It is alleged that the officials at the company told the messenger to wait outside while they contacted their bosses.

And when he was outside they locked the door, leaving him outside.

The messenger then slipped the order under the door.

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Times can reveal that the battle for the control of LCCI intensified this week amid revelations that Phafane yesterday started removing furniture from the association’s office.

He was moving the furniture to a new office that Phafane has allegedly opened in Old Europa.

A Security Lesotho truck was seen carrying the LCCI movable property from the office yesterday morning.

It is understood that the only property left at the Maseru West office is a Toyota Hilux twin cab because its keys are still in Nots’i’s possession.

Nots’i said he was afraid that evidence against Phafane would be destroyed.

“There are documents that would pin Phafane regarding the many wrong things he did against the LCCI and I am afraid that now all things are under his direct control such evidence is likely to be destroyed,” he said.

Notsi said he had been at loggerheads with Phafane for a long time after he reported “the president’s wrongdoings to the management committee.”

He said on a day prior to their debarment from the office, the LCCI’s National Executive Committee (NEC) was planning to take “correctional measures” against Phafane.

He said Phafane was aware that the NEC was investigating him against a company he registered in the name of the LCCI but which is privately owned by him and two others.

“I reported to both the management committee and the NEC that he registered a private company called the LCCI Investment Holdings which is allegedly going to protect the LCCI’s investments,” he said.

“Members, especially from the Maseru chamber, have been asking me if I knew anything about this company but I told everybody that I knew nothing.

“I was pestered with questions until I went to the law office where I witnessed that indeed such a company existed and our president was one of its three directors.

“The law office could not allow me to take its further particulars on the grounds that it was a private company and they could not assist me without the consent of its directors.”

Notsi also said Phafane’s move to bring the secretariat’s work to an abrupt halt had disrupted plans to hold NEC elections which were scheduled for April 18 and 19.

“We have not done anything to prepare for the elections and I am sure that Mr Phafane was well aware that his acts would frustrate preparations for elections”.

When contacted for comment Phafane dropped the phone on this reporter.

When the reporter called him again Phafane picked up but said he could not talk because he was away from home.

“I can’t talk to you because I am away from home,” Phafane said before dropping the phone again.

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