High Court nullifies PC FM order

MASERU — The High Court on Monday nullified an order granted by the magistrate’s court allowing the police to seize official documents from People’s Choice (PC FM) radio station.
The police last month approached the magistrate’s court seeking an order to compel PC FM bosses to hand over documents to the law enforcement agency.
The police said they wanted the documents to enable them to investigate the PC FM officials who are charged with fraud.
The magistrates’ court granted the order.
But in a fresh twist to the case, PC FM’s managing director Motlatsi Majara filed an urgent application at the High Court asking the court to nullify the magistrate’s order.
In a dramatic day in court on Monday, High Court Judge Semapo Peete upheld the radio station’s application.
“The application is granted as prayed,” Peete said.
The application was granted unopposed.
Advocate Shale Shale, who was representing PC FM, told the High Court that he had served the magistrate who granted the order against the radio station with court papers notifying him about the High Court application.
Shale said there was no notice to show any intentions to oppose the application.
“All respondents have been served with the notice of motion but until today there has never been any notice to oppose the application.
“I therefore ask this honourable court to grant this application as prayed,” Shale submitted.
He said the magistrate’s order, if granted, would have shut down the radio station.
“The essence of the learned magistrate’s order was to shut down the popular radio station.
“The order was that the crucial documents in the operation of the station should be handed over.
“They included cheque books and the trading licence. Surely the order was seeking closure of the station,” Shale said.
He said he was challenging the application at the High Court because the order issued by the magistrate had been issued without the concerned parties having been given a hearing.
“The applicants in this matter were not given a chance to be heard before the order was granted,” he said.
The police said the documents at the centre of the dispute were meant to help further their investigations in the fraud case against the PC FM directors.
Majara, who is the station’s managing director, station manager Kholu Qhobela, popular presenter Liteboho Nkuebe and four other prominent personalities are facing 15 charges of fraud.
The prosecution says the accused fraudulently caused the radio station to buy shares for individuals, a practice that is prohibited under the Companies Act.
They are also accused of fraudulently registering two prominent lawyers as PC FM board members.
They are charged with contravening Clause 88(1) of the Companies Act of 1967 in that they registered lawyers Salemane Phafane and Thabo Mpaka as directors without following procedures.
They are also charged with registering Matsepo Ramakoae and Rethabile Pholo as board members without following the correct procedures.
PC FM executive chairman, Mohau Thakaso, pressed fraud charges against the PC FM directors.
Thakaso was not happy with the manner in which shares were being bought and sold at the radio station.
The fraud case against the top PC FM officials will be heard in February next year.

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