Law lecturer demands M1.5 million in damages

MASERU — A National University of Lesotho (NUL) law lecturer has filed a M1.5 million defamation lawsuit against the Legal Aid department.

Tekane Maqakachane has instituted legal action against Legal Aid counsel Limpho Linake saying she defamed him in court papers.

The two lawyers were representing their clients who were fighting over the custody of a child.

Maqakachane is demanding M1 million for defamation of his name and M500 000 for loss of business profits.

He also wants interest paid at the rate of 12.5 percent per annum from January 17 when he issued the summons.

Maqakachane’s client, Thabiso Mosoang, was locked in a fierce battle over his girlfriend, Tholang Seeiso, for the custody of their child.

Seeiso had allegedly taken her daughter to her home in Mokhotlong without the consent of her former boyfriend.

Mosoang however sought the court’s intervention to get back the child telling the court that the child was sick and that the needed to take care of her.

He then approached Maqakachane while Seeiso sought help from the Legal Aid department because she could not afford to hire a lawyer.

The Legal Aid opposed the case in writing to Maqakachane. But when the case began in the Mokhotlong magistrate’s court on November 19 last year no lawyer from the Legal Aid department showed up in court.

Seeiso was also nowhere in sight.

Maqakachane says he told the magistrate that Linake had served him with a notice of intention to oppose when the court opened at 9am.

He says in the papers that the magistrate duly stood down the matter to 11am to allow Linake to arrive.

When she failed to turn up the magistrate then granted Mosoang’s application to take care of the child.

Seeiso however applied for a rescission of the court order.

In her affidavit Seeiso said Maqakachane misled the court and failed to observe his ethical duty by obtaining the final judgment fraudulently.

“My counsel advises me and I believe same to be true that the respondent (Maqakachane) as an officer of court had an ethical duty to have brought to the attention of the court that the matter was then opposed,” reads part of Seeiso’s affidavit.

She said Maqakachane was well aware that the matter was being opposed and he could have avoided “misleading the court and thereby obtaining the final judgment fraudulently” had he told the magistrate that the case was being opposed.

Maqakachane argues that it is not necessarily Seeiso who defamed him in court papers by saying he obtained the judgment fraudulently but it is her lawyer, Linake, who drafted the affidavit and advised her client.

“In drafting and preparing the affidavit mentioned herein above, containing the defamatory averments…the first defendant (Linake) acted in her capacity as the Legal Aid counsel for Tholang Seeiso and within the scope of her duty and employment as such,” Maqakachane says in affidavit.

Maqakachane says the averments were about him although the cited defendant was his client.

He reasoned that the notice of intention to oppose the matter was served at his office.

He also says he was the only officer of the court who knew of the intention to oppose because Linake had not served and filed her copy to the clerk of court.

“Being the only officer of court served with the intention to oppose the matter by (Linake) and the only officer of court to approach the court for final court order, (I) was the only such officer of court who had the legal and ethical duty to disclose the fact of opposition of the matter to the court,” he said.

“By ‘respondent’ it was therefore meant ‘respondent’s counsel.’”

“Thabiso Mosoang was the only respondent who knew that the matter was being opposed but was not the officer of court though.”

Maqakachane said the claim that he obtained the judgment fraudulently lowered his reputation in the eyes of reasonable men and exposed him to ridicule, hatred and contempt.

The remarks had also negatively affected his business, he claims.

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