Chief fights for compensation

Chief fights for compensation

Accuses Roads Directorate of using his land without permission…….

MASERU – THE Ombudsman Leshele Thoahlane has asked Parliament to direct the Roads Directorate to compensate a village chief in Butha-Buthe for using his land without his permission.
Thoahlane’s special report to Parliament was tabled on Tuesday. The Ombudsman also wants Chief Thamahane Rasekila of Ha-Rasekila to be paid M2 000 per month from February 2014 to date.
He also wants Parliament to direct the Roads Directorate to rehabilitate the site and put it in the same condition they found it before they used it.

Thoahlane told Parliament that the Ministries of Local Government, Public Works and the Roads Directorate have ignored the Ombudsman’s recommendations to settle the matter since May 2015. The Ombudsman told Parliament that Rasekila complained to his office in November 2013. He said the two ministries had authorised a contractor to use his personal land as a camp site without his consent while building a bridge at Khukhune in Butha-Buthe.
Rasekila wanted compensation for his land.

The Ombudsman met the complainant and the two ministries, the Butha-Buthe District Administrator, the Principal Chief of Butha-Buthe and the Likila Community Council on February 10, 2014.
Rasekila told the Ombudsman that sometime in 2011 he was in Maseru where he lived at the time when he received a call from the office of the District Administrator, informing him that there was a contractor who had been awarded a tender to build a bridge at Khukhune and that he wanted to use his site as a camp site.
Rasekila said he told the District Administrator to refer the contractor to him.

When he met the contractor, one Hau Yude, he explained to him the conditions under which he could release the site.
The conditions were that he should be paid a monthly rental of M10 000 for a minimum of eight months and maximum of 12 months – time that would be taken for the completion of the bridge.
Another condition was that half of the workforce should be people of Ha-Rasekila.

Rasekila told the Ombudsman that the contractor promised to come back to him with a response but never did.
“He said he was shocked a few weeks later when he was informed by his people at Ha-Rasekila that the contractor had settled at his site,” the report reads.
When Rasekila rushed there, the contractor told him that he had been authorised by the Principal Chief ’Maretšelisitsoe Mopeli to use the site.
He produced a letter from the Principal Chief in which he stated that “Rasekila was an illegitimate chief”.
“He said he felt insulted and was very upset about that,” the report reads.

Rasekila went to the then Minister of Local Government, Pontšo Sekatle, asking her to intervene between him and the Principal Chief.
Sekatle referred her to the Ministry of Works Principal Secretary because the ministry was a client of the contractor.
The then Principal Secretary, Lebohang Phooko, responded in writing saying the contractor had been authorised to use the land by the Principal Chief “after consulting all stakeholders”.
Rasekila responded in writing telling the Principal Secretary that the site was his personal property and even attached a copy of a Form C that showed that he was the owner of the property.
The then District Administrator, Matla-a-selo Lehema, alleged Rasekila “never came back after being asked to produce evidence” that the site was his personal property.

A secretary in the Principal Chief’s office, Ntšekhe Mokhethi, told the Ombudsman that Lehema called a meeting to discuss the ownership of the site but Rasekila failed to attend the meeting.
Mokhethi said as there was no evidence presented in the meeting that the site belonged to Rasekila as his personal property, “the Principal Secretary of Butha-Buthe had as a result authorised the contractor to use the site without any charge or any sort of compensation”.

Mokhethi promised to submit to the Ombudsman a copy of the letter he alleged Lehema wrote to Rasekila asking him to produce evidence of the site ownership.
The Ombudsman says Mokhethi never produced the copy as promised.
A member of the Likila Community Council, Khiba Letlala, told the Ombudsman that Hau Yude came to them armed with a letter from the Ministry of Public Works introducing him as the contractor who had been awarded the tender to build the Khukhune bridge.

He said they approached Lehema and it was agreed at a meeting that they should discuss the request to use the land with the chief of Ha-Rasekila.
“The meeting with the Chief of Ha-Rasekila ended with an agreement that the contractor should go and meet Mr Rasekila in Maseru,” the report reads.
Letlala said another meeting was held at the Principal Chief’s office which was followed by a letter giving the contractor authority to use the land free of charge.
The contractor, the Ombudsman found, did not rehabilitate the site in anyway after using it.

“Used machine oils had been left in some holes there,” Thoahlane told Parliament.
“Some holes containing many sorts of dirt have been left open. Big cement blocks have been left inserted on the ground around the site,” he reported.
“The site could not be used in any way before being cleaned and rehabilitated.”

The current Principal Chief of Butha-Buthe, Retšelisitsoe Mopeli, told the Ombudsman that he knew nothing about the matter as he was not yet a chief when the authorisation was granted.
The Ombudsman has appealed to parliament to intervene because the Roads Directorate has ignored his recommendation for the past three years.

Staff Reporter

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