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Police face M58 000 suit for stripped car

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — A man from Semonkong is suing the police for M58 000 after his car was allegedly stripped of components while it was in police custody.
Lekhotla Sekoala, 60, said the components of his Toyota 4×4 were stolen and damaged after it was impounded by the police.
He alleges that the parts were stolen while the car was being kept at Mabote Police Station.
The police had impounded the vehicle after suspecting that it had been stolen.  This happened in February 2006.
Sekoala told the court during the hearing on Tuesday that when his son went to collect the vehicle from the station he found some parts missing and alerted him. He said he told his son to leave the vehicle at the station.
He said when he personally inspected the vehicle he found that its propeller shaft had been changed and the spare wheel was missing.
The bumper had been damaged, Sekoala said during cross examination.
He said the spare wheel was in the car when it was taken away from him by the police. 
He said he was seeking M58 000 in damages from the police. 
The office of the commissioner of police is cited as the respondent.
“I want the court to order senior police officers to compensate me to the tune of (M58 000) which appears in the summons so that I could repair my vehicle,” he said. Sekoala said the police had been negligent.
He said the police had tried to avoid blame by alleging the propeller shaft had been damaged because he was driving in the wrong gear.
“Whoever says that I was driving in a four wheel gear will not be telling the truth,” said a calm Sekoala as he narrated his story under cross examination from his lawyer Advocate Ranale Thoahlane.
He said the figure he had demanded was from a quotation he received from Maseru Toyota for repairs.
Sekoala’s testimony however came under strong attack from police lawyer Rapelang Motsieloa who argued that the vehicle was already damaged before it was impounded.
“We feel there is no case as far as damages are concerned. We seek absolution from instance,” Motsieloa said.
“Where damages are claimed for the depreciation of an article the value of the vehicle before it was damaged and after it was damaged had to be established.
“You can’t repair an old car with new parts. You would be enhancing it and you can’t repair a new car with old parts. You would be depreciating it,” he said.
He said the model and the vehicle’s date of manufacture should “have been made known to the court so that there could be restitution for the plaintiff”.
Motsieloa added that Sekoala had not provided proof of the damages to the vehicle.
“The particulars of damage have to be proved by evidence. There is no evidence to make the court reconstitute the damages. We don’t know the value of the vehicle before damages and after damages.”
The case continues today.

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