Blow for Maseru businesswoman

Blow for Maseru businesswoman

Staff Reporter

MASERU

BUSINESSWOMAN Leonia Mosothoane’s attempt the block the Ministry of Police from awarding a M7 million uniform tender to two companies suffered a blow yesterday after the High Court threw out her urgent application.

Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makooane ruled that Mosothoane’s company Smally Trading had not followed procedure when it brought its urgent application last week.

Justice Chaka-Makooane said Smally Trading should have followed the process outlined in the Public Procurement Regulations (2007) before approaching the court.

She agreed with Advocate Salemane Phafane’s argument on behalf of the police that Smally Trading should have first filed a complaint with the Ministry of Police’s Procurement Unit.

He said if she was not satisfied with the unit’s decision she should have appealed to the Public Procurement Advisory Division (PPAD) before coming to the High Court.

Smally Trading’s lawyer Advocate Mariti had argued that the Public Procurement Regulations (2007) states that once a contract has been signed a complainant can approach the High Court for remedy.

Phafane’s response to that was that seeking recourse through the unit and the PPAD was mandatory.

He said because Smally Trading had not followed procedure the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case. Justice Chaka-Makooane agreed the court did not jurisdiction over the case.

“This finding on the jurisdictional issue decides the present matter and it is therefore an academic exercise to consider the other point raises. The application is dismissed with costs,” Justice Chaka-Makooane ruled.

The Ministry of Police reacted to the judgement with a press conference where it reiterated its argument that it had awarded the contract through selective tender because of security reasons.

The acting Deputy Principal Secretary, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Ezekiel Senti, told the press conference yesterday that Mosothoane’s complaint did not hold water because the police had followed procedure.

Senti said the police had only agreed to hear Mosothoane as a “matter of courtesy” because Smally Trading had not been involved in the selective tender.

“Our inviting her to be heard was just a courtesy call because what she had tendered for had been closed a long time ago,” Senti said.

He was referring to the initial tender the ministry has called.

“Now the court has found that her application was baseless and therefore dismissed it,” he said.

Senti said Mosothoane knew when the previous tender was closed “because we made a public announcement on that and all the bidders knew about it”.

“The tender was awarded to a company that qualified after following due process”.

He said they were about to receive the supplies when Mosothoane lodged a complaint saying the tender process was flawed.

Senti however did not want to say whether the ministry won the case against Smally Trading on merit or technicalities.

“The judgement is a public document and everybody can find it at the Commercial Court. You will read it yourself to find if the application was dismissed on merits or on points of law,” he said.

“I don’t want to blame her for going to court. She did a good thing and now the court has dismissed her application.”

Last night Mosothoane said the battle was far from over. She said the police had won the case on a technicality and she would follow the procedure until the case comes back to the High Court.

Mosothoane said she was now hiring a senior lawyer to handle the case.

“I will fight to the every end,” she said.

Mosothoane wanted the High Court to interdict the Ministry of Police from releasing monies to Cubana Shells Holdings and Naledi Outdoor Advertising.

She claimed Cubana Shells Holdings which won the M3 342 302 contract for boots and badges was not properly registered.

This, she alleged, means that the tender was awarded to an “unregistered entity and/or to a person who had not provided financial or bank statement to ascertain his suitability for conducting such a big job for the government of Lesotho”.

She said she discovered that Naleli Outdoor Advertising, registered in 2013, had been awarded a M3 657 450 contract to supply police suits even though it has no experience in protective clothing and textiles.

Naleli Outdoor Advertising had neither the performance appraisal nor the samples, Mosothoane said.

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