Mets­ing in land storm

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

LAND Ad­min­is­tra­tion Author­ity (LAA) Di­rec­tor: Le­gal and Reg­istry Ser­vices, Tšeliso Makhaphela, has been sus­pended pend­ing a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing next week for “gross mis­con­duct” among other al­leged of­fences.

Mr Makhaphela is ac­cused of re­fus­ing to take in­struc­tions from his boss, Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Ma­hashe Chaka, to reg­is­ter a deed of trans­fer for a res­i­den­tial prop­erty in Moshoeshoe II last week.

How­ever, on Mon­day Mr Makhaphela sought the in­ter­ven­tion of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary, ar­gu­ing Mr Chaka’s in­struc­tion was “con­temp­tu­ous in the eyes of the courts of law”.

In the let­ter, Mr Makhaphela says he could not car­ry­out the in­struc­tion to reg­is­ter the prop­erty as it was the sub­ject of lit­i­ga­tion in the Land Court.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing (pic­tured) is the sec­ond re­spon­dent in the case in which the ap­pli­cant, Madoda Ra­ma­joana, is chal­leng­ing the trans­fer of the prop­erty to the deputy premier. The other re­spon­dents are Le­seteli Male­fane (first), Reg­is­trar of Deeds (third), LAA (fourth) and At­tor­ney-gen­eral (fifth).

“One of the prayers in the orig­i­nat­ing ap­pli­ca­tion is for ‘ an order declar­ing as null and void, the trans­ac­tion of sale of Plot No.13281 – 403 be­tween First and Sec­ond Re­spon­dents (Mr Male­fane and Mr Mets­ing re­spec­tively) and any sub­se­quent trans­fer thereof,” notes Mr Makhaphela.

“I did ad­vise the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral that Plot No.13281 - 403 is the sub­ject of a dis­pute pend­ing be­fore the court and thus in the hands of the law. I fur­ther ad­vised that pro­ceed­ing with the trans­fer would be con­temp­tu­ous in the eye of the court.”

Mr Makhaphela says Mr Chaka dis­re­garded the ad­vice and di­rected him to pro­ceed with the trans­fer.

“. . . (the) ac­tion would be con­strued as be­ing con­tempt in the eyes of the court, more so be­cause we had been duly served with the court process on 4 April 2016,” he ar­gues.

“It would not be in the best in­ter­ests of the Author­ity to en­gage in any ac­tion that would be con­strued as con­tempt by the court of law, given the cir­cum­stance.”

Mr Makhaphela adds: “Fur­ther­more, I would have failed in my duty to prop­erly ad­vise the Author­ity in le­gal mat­ters in that re­gard. De­spite my le­gal ad­vice in the mat­ter, I was sus­pended al­legedly for gross mis­con­duct, ac­tion which, in my view, amounts to vic­tim­iza­tion given the cir­cum­stances.

“It is on the ba­sis of the is­sues out­lined above that I hereby humbly re­quest for your ur­gent in­ter­ven­tion be­cause this sus­pen­sion and the likely con­se­quences would leave me with no other op­tion other than re­dress from the courts of law.”

The Le­sotho Times is also in pos­ses­sion of two let­ters from Mr Ra­ma­joana’s lawyers – Hud­son’s Cham­bers – ad­dressed to the LAA Land Reg­is­trar and Mr Chaka re­spec­tively.

In the first let­ter dated 19 May 2016, the lawyers re­mind the LAA Land Reg­is­trar of Mr Ra­ma­joana’s High Court ap­pli­ca­tion which “was served on your of­fice on 4 April 2016”.

“Be­fore we deal with the spe­cific le­gal is­sues ger­mane to his ti­tle to the land in is­sue which is pend­ing be­fore the Land Court, al­low us to in­di­cate that the com­plaints fore­shad­owed by our client in his orig­i­nat­ing (sic) ap­pli­ca­tion against Mr Male­fane and Hon Mets­ing by nec­es­sary im­pli­ca­tion must there­fore as­sume the in­tegrity and neu­tral­ity of your of­fice in stop­ping to do any­thing over the dis­puted plot pend­ing fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the case,” reads the let­ter.r.

“It is against the above un­der­stand­ingn­der­stand­ing that we pro­ceed to con­sider whatat hap­pened af­ter 4 April 2016. The mat­ter first came be­fore Jus­tice Peter Sakoane on 19 April 2016 and was post­poned to 20 April 2016 for pre­trial con­fer­ence which ac­tu­ally en­sued. Af­ter the pre­trial con­fer­ence it was post­poned to 19 and 23 (April 2016) for hear­ing.”ring.”

The lawyers say the mat­terter was post­poned to 9 June 2016 at the in­sti­ga­tion gation of Mr Male­fane’s coun­sel in order to makeake way for an out of court set­tle­ment.

“It has been dis­cov­ered beyond doubt that while your or­gan­i­sa­tion was s sup­posed to wait for the judge­ment of the cour­turt in the mat­ter our client made find­ings which hich are in­ti­mately re­lated to con­tin­u­ing wrongs rongs de­lib­er­ately aided and abet­ted by your of­ficesf­fices to his prej­u­di­cial detri­ment,” the lawyersers ar­gue.

Ac­cord­ing to the so­lic­i­tors, ors, Mr Male­fane ap­plied for a con­sent cer­tifi­catefi­cate over the dis­puted site on 8 April 2016.

“The ap­pli­ca­tion for con­sent ent was ap­proved (on the) same day in favour of Hon Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing. The con­sent cer­tifi­catefi­cate is there­fore fun­da­men­tally flawed in terms erms of the law,” the lawyers state.

“It is there­fore no won­derer that Ad­vo­cate Mamello Nkoebe sub­mit­ted d trans­fer papers on 12 May 2016 and sub­se­quent­lyquently the trans­fer and stamp du­ties were cal­cu­lated on 17 May 2016.

“What de­fense does yourr of­fice has over this cal­cu­lated steps of law­less­ness­w­less­ness and ma­neu­vers? Our client got to know about this in­fa­mous devel­op­ment today ay (19 May 2016) which is rel­e­vant to how wee should ap­proach this mat­ter sen­si­tively fromm both sides.”

The lawyers then de­mandnd that the LAA Land Reg­is­trar avail the con­tents on­tents of the file in­volv­ing the prop­erty.

“. . . specif­i­cally the Con­sen­ton­sent Cer­tifi­cate and trans­fer papers so that t we can take fur­ther in­struc­tions given thatt all these al­leged un­law­ful trans­ac­tions are be­ing done while the mat­ter is pend­ing be­fore e courts of law.

“We, in fact, de­mand youu to give us those con­tents and re­port to us in writ­ing as to why our client can­not lay crim­i­nal charges against your per­son­nel or who­ever found to have been com­plicit to this s fraud­u­lent es­capade. This is an over­ar­ch­ingg con­sid­er­a­tion in our view, not un­less there are con­sid­er­a­tions to the con­trary.”

In the let­ter to Mr Chaka ka dated 20 May 2016, the lawyers state that t the LAA can­not make a de­ci­sion on the trans­fer ns­fer of the prop­erty since the is­sue was be­fore­ore the courts.

They also ac­cuse LAA of “un­der­min­ing the deco­rum of the court seized with this pend­ing case” by pro­ceed­ing with thee land own­er­ship trans­fer process.

“We doubt you know the con­tents of the an­swer by Mr Male­faneane be­fore the High Court. In thehe an­swer he signed for and fileded on 19 April 2016, he says there here are no transfers filed as yet be­tween him and Hon Mets­ings­ing with your of­fice and that Hon Mets­ing has been joined inn the present dis­pute for rea­sonss bet­ter known to our client.

“As it turned out, throughgh your in­stru­men­tal­ity, the cer­tifi­cate fi­cate of con­sent had al­ready been ap­proved pproved by your of­fices on the 8 April 2016 016 not­with­stand­ing the con­tents of the orig­i­nat­ing ap­pli­ca­tion filed with the High Court on 24 March 2016.”

The lawyers ar­gue that Mr Chaka placed their client in an “in­vid­i­ouss po­si­tion” by fa­cil­i­tat­ing the trans­fer of his prop­erty in a way “which is not trans­par­ent”.

“We have ex­am­ined the im­pli­ca­tions of your de­ci­sion to force Ad­vo­cate Tšeliso D. Makhaphela to sign for the trans­fer of the dis­puted prop­erty in favour of Hon Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing to the detri­ment of our client not­with­stand­ing the pend­ing case,” fur­ther state the lawyers.

“In our con­sid­ered view, that de­ci­sion you reached if you al­low us, can be clas­si­fied as hav­ing been pre­ceded by flawed logic on grounds of abuse of power.”

The lawyers add: “We may not prop­erly un­der­stand your op­er­a­tions as Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, but what we know is that the law does not al­low you to force Deputy Land Regis­trars to sign and en­dorse ques­tion­able trans­fer doc­u­ments of plot No 13281-403 with­out ad­e­quate jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. “It is ad­vis­able that you stop what­ever you are do­ing about our client’s im­mov­able prop­erty.”

Mean­while, the Le­sotho Times has learnt that Hud­son’s Cham­bers, who also hap­pen to be Mr Makhaphela’s lawyers, in­tend to file an ur­gent High Court ap­pli­ca­tion to­mor­row chal­leng­ing their client’s sus­pen­sion.

Ef­forts to get com­ments from Mr Mets­ing and Mr Chaka proved fruit­less yes­ter­day.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing

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