Mafeteng men fight over mall

MAFETENG — The son of a former government minister is embroiled in a bitter dispute with a popular businessman, Ashraf Abubaker, over the ownership of a shopping centre in Mafeteng.
Benjamin Maphathe, 61, accuses Abubaker of dispossessing him of Patsa Shopping Complex which he claims he jointly owned with his late father, Thulo Maphathe, a former minister of public works under the BNP government in the late 70s and early 80s.
He died in 2000.
Maphathe, who is paralysed from the waist down, claims that together with his father they built the shopping centre which now houses 14 shops that include Chicken Grill, Vodacom 3G Shop, Fashion World and Express. 
Abubaker is a well-known businessman with interests in property and retail outlets.
The battle over the Mafeteng property has since spilled into the courts.
In August Maphathe was slapped with a court interdict barring him from claiming to have “any authority to manage, control or administer any of the affairs or tenants at Patsa Shopping Centre”.
Maphathe was also ordered not to interfere with the rights of Abubaker “to occupy, possess, control and administer the shopping centre”.
Maphathe’s attempt to get a similar order against Abubaker in October was dismissed with costs.
On October 23 Maphathe filed an application seeking to be declared the sole owner of the property.
The case is likely to be heard in August next year.
According to the court papers, Maphathe alleges that in 1983 while his father Thulo was a minister he acquired three sites in Mafeteng and requested him to obtain their leases.
The properties were plot numbers 06472-041, 06472-222 and 06472-041.
He said they agreed to be partners in a brick making business which they ran on the sites.
In 1988 Maphathe was involved in a car accident and was disabled.
This, he said, forced his father to take the lead in the business but he remained a partner. 
He said in 1990 his father entered into a sublease agreement with a company called I Kuper Lesotho (Pty) Ltd in respect of two sites for 25 years for their development and construction of a shopping complex.
The third site was allegedly to be used by Maphathe for his own benefit while it was also agreed that he would be a caretaker of the shopping centre and was introduced to the I Kuper Lesotho (Pty) Ltd officials.
Maphathe said he agreed with his father that upon his death the sites would wholly belong to him.
He said his father kept the agreement documents.
These documents, he alleges, have since disappeared and the executors of his father’s estate say they cannot trace them.
He said when his father died in 2000 he appointed a niece to be the heir to his properties but that does not mean he lost his share in Patsa Shopping Complex.
The court papers also reveal that I Kuper Lesotho (Pty) Ltd had acquired funds from Investec Property Group Limited for the development of the sites and therefore Investec held business rights.
Investec appointed Maphathe as caretaker for all its properties in Maputsoe, Cathedral Area in Maseru and Patsa Shopping Centre in Mafeteng, according to the papers.
Maphathe’s fight with Abubaker started in July last year when the businessman entered into an agreement of cession with I Kuper Lesotho and bought all its business interests in the property through the company Mafeteng Property Group.
The Lesotho Times is in possession of a copy of the Deed of Cession between I Kuper Lesotho and the Mafeteng Property Group.
“This (Abubaker) is an intruder in my property,” Maphathe told the Lesotho Times in an interview this week.
Abubaker is however adamant that Maphathe does not have a claim to the property.
He said he still does not understand why and what Maphathe was fighting for.
“Maphathe knows very well that he does not have any claim to the property,” Abubaker said.
“I have bought all business interests in the properties and I am the one who should collect rent and run the business as I wish without his interference.”
“He also knows that he is not an heir and therefore he should shut his mouth up,” he added.
“There was no need to go to him when I wanted to buy the rights because I knew who held them.
“It was I Kuper.”

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