Phooko land dispute back in court
THE land dispute between former Ministry of Public Works and Transport principal secretary Lebohang Phooko and J&M Properties (Pty) Ltd rages on, with the Court of Appeal ordering that the case be tried afresh in the High Court.
The dispute is over a piece of land in Maseru Industrial Area, with both parties claiming to be its legitimate owners.
The wrangle escalated in December 2013 when Mr Phooko wanted to develop the site but was denied entry by security guards employed by J&M Properties.
Following the scuffle, Mr Phooko filed an urgent application before the High Court (Commercial Division) for the order “interdicting and restraining respondent from interfering with applicant’s development of his site as held by lease number 12281-010, Hoohlo Industrial, Maseru except by due pro- cess of law”.
Read the application: “Directing respondent to remove its security guards, vehicles, plant, machinery, fencing, any apparatus or other from the aforesaid property.”
However, High Court judge, Justice Lebohang Molete, dismissed Mr Phooko’s application. The former PS appealed the judgment, arguing that Justice Molete “erred and misdirected” himself when determining issues that were not sought through a notice of motion.
Court of Appeal president, Justice Kananelo Mosito, on Friday ordered the case to be tried afresh before a judge other than Justice Molete.
“The conclusion to which I have come is that this appeal should accordingly succeed on the basis that the court a quo misdirected itself by determining issues that were not before it, thereby making a decision thereon and dismissing the application on the basis thereof,” Justice Mosito noted.
“This court was urged by the learned counsel that in the event the court decides to remit the matter to the court a quo, an order should be made that this matter be heard by a different judge.”
He added: “In the result, I would grant the following order in this appeal: (a) The appeal succeeds. (b) The matter is remitted to the High
Court for hearing by a different judge.” Laying the background to the case, Justice Mosito narrated how the dispute landed in the courts of law.
He said: “The facts that gave rise to this appeal are not really in dispute.
“The appellant (Mr Phooko) deposes that he is the lawful owner of plot number 12281-010 Hoohlo industrial, Maseru Urban Lesotho.
“He avers that he acquired the rights and interest in that plot from one Mrs Flora ‘Mamasitise Seleso in 2012.
“When he attempted to take occupation of the plot, he was met with resistance from respondent’s security guards on the plot at gunpoint to stop appellant and his hired construction company, to start developing this plot. “This was on 2nd to 5th December 2013.” He also narrated the respondent, J&M Properties’ defence in the matter.
“For its part, the respondent’s averments are that, the plot in question has been bought by the respondent for the sum of M400 000 from ‘Mamasitise Seleso.”
But Mrs Seleso is alleged to have “refused to cause transfer of the rights and interest to plot number 12281-010 to respondent, claiming that she had not been paid.”
Justice Mosito concluded by ordering the High Court to solve the dispute between the two parties.
The Court of Appeal president was sitting alongside Justices ‘Maseforo Mahase and Phillip Musonda.