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PM jibe attracts M3 million suit

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — Government secretary Tlohang Sekhamane is suing a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) member from Mokhotlong constituency for alleging that he assaulted Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Sekhamane wants Motjotji Likhale, a member of the LCD’s Mokhotlong constituency committee, to pay him damages of M3 million for telling a rally in May that he had at one time assaulted Mosisili.

He says Likhale’s allegations were defamatory and malicious.

Likhale is said to have made the defamatory statement at a rally that had been called by Maphathe Tšita, the chairman of the Khohloaneng branch of the LCD’s Mokhotlong No. 7 constituency.

The constituency’s sub-branches include Liphakoeng, Mokone, Khohloaneng, Manthaung and Tšila-Ntšo.

The rally had been called to elect a new committee for the Khohloaneng branch. Sekhamane comes from Mokhotlong and there has been speculation in the past that he is considering contesting for parliament in the 2012 elections.

In his affidavit Sekhamane says one of the rally leaders raised a concern that a constituency sub-branch, Mokone, held a meeting “with one government official holding a high office, in the absence of other sub-branches”.

Sekhamane says there was a debate on whether it was proper to talk about the issue and mention the name of that official in his absence.

At that moment, Sekhamane claims, Likhale intervened and said it was important to deal with the issue “because it was an issue that affected all other sub-branches, and it was therefore no longer a secret”.

“He (Likhale) announced that he had exclusive information concerning the person in question (Sekhamane) which he would like to share with the public.”

“Defendant (Likhale) further stated that the high government official in question is Tlohang Sekhamane who stinks like a skunk, and that all his followers stink like him.

“He announced that at some point in time plaintiff (Sekhamane) did beat and/or assault The Right Honourable the Prime Minister, Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili.”

Sekhamane’s affidavit however does not explain whether Likhale substantiated his allegations or not.

This paper could also not find sources to verify this allegation.

But Sekhamane says Likhale’s statement “is unequivocally and utterly defamatory and completely uncalled for”.

“More importantly, it was not only intended to injure my good reputation in public, but to devastate it completely,” the government secretary claims. 

He says Likhale’s statement was understood by the public to mean that he is “a violent, aggressive and unruly person who does not have respect for high authority”.

Sekhamane has attached to the court papers an affidavit from a witness he said was present when Likhale made the defamatory allegations.

The witness, Tefo Mokone, says when Likhale made the statement he objected saying they were being unfair to Sekhamane as he was not present to defend himself.

“I immediately stood up and voiced my contention that it was improper to discuss any accusatory and/or defamatory issue pertaining to plaintiff (Sekhamane) in a situation where he is absent to defend himself,” says Mokone in a supporting affidavit.

“I was told to shut up and sit down lest I belong to his group,” he says.

“Indeed I had no option but to sit down.”

Mokone says he understood Likhale’s statement to mean that Sekhamane “is a violent, aggressive and unruly person, with no respect for the high (authority)”.

Sekhamane is expected to appear before High Court Judge Tšeliso Monaphathi to give oral evidence today.

On Monday Justice Monaphathi refused to hear the case saying Sekhamane had to give oral evidence first.

Apart from the damages of M3 million Sekhamane wants Likhale to pay the cost of suit.

He is also seeking “further and/or alternative relief”. 

Sekhamane could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the country on state business.

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