Kamoli, Lekhooa sue Lesotho Times

Kamoli, Lekhooa sue Lesotho Times

MASERU – FORMER army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and former spy boss Lieutenant Colonel Tumo Lekhooa are suing the Lesotho Times newspaper for defamation. They each want compensation of M5 million from the newspaper, its distributor and printer.
In their court papers, Kamoli and Lekhooa say the newspaper’s article painted them as dishonest people who plot assassinations.

The newspaper carried an article headlined, ‘SADC mission makes shock claims,’ which said Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi who allegedly killed Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo had met at Kamoli’s residence two days before the fatal shooting.

The allegation has infuriated Kamoli who told the High Court in papers that “the article is full of false, wrong, inaccurate and misleading information”.
What irked Kamoli is that the article also “carries the meaning that (he) is a person who conspires to have other people assassinated and has in fact conspired with assassins to have the Commander of the LDF killed”.

The article also says the former National Security Service (NSS) director general, Colonel Lekhooa, attended the meeting.
It also says the SADC report revealed that Motšomotšo could not have died had Lekhooa, who now heads the LDF’s military intelligence after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fired him from the NSS, gave him support.

The paper reported that SADC says Motšomotšo had no intelligence support from his men.
The article has infuriated Lekhooa as well and he told the High Court in the papers that the story suggested he led the LDF Military Intelligence in an incompetent manner and that he neglected his military intelligence duties.

Kamoli and Lekhooa argue that the newspaper should have verified the SADC fact-finding mission’s claims before publishing the allegations.
The Lesotho Times story said the “government suspects that the alleged assassins” had met at Kamoli’s residence.
However, the same story says Foreign Affairs Minister Lesego Makgothi “would not be drawn to comment on the details of the report, specifically the alleged 3 September 2017 meeting yesterday, saying the matter was part of ongoing investigations into the assassination”.

Kamoli and Lekhooa told the court in their joint suit that “these lies are calculated to tarnish (their) good images in society”.
“The said words in the context of the article are wrongful, unlawful and defamatory of plaintiffs in that they were intended and were understood by readers of the aforementioned newspaper that plaintiffs are bad and dishonest,” the court papers read. They both argue that the article depicted them as people unworthy of respect.

Kamoli and Lekhooa also complain that the article parades them as people who abet and aid murderers.
They say the article displays them as people unworthy of trust.
They argue that the newspaper was reckless in that it “did not care whether the claims of SADC mission were true or false alternatively that they carried an innuendo”.

“The (newspaper) took no reasonable steps to establish and/or to investigate the truth of the SADC mission claims which (it) published recklessly,” they say in their court papers. As a result of the defamation, Kamoli and Lekhooa told the court that their reputations have been seriously damaged.
The newspaper, if it wishes to defend the action, is expected to enter an appearance to defend in court within seven days after service of the summons.

Majara Molupe

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