MoAfrika FM wins case

MoAfrika FM wins case

MASERU – THE High Court has struck down an order directing MoAfrika FM to produce copies of news bulletins that the police say contained remarks that were criminally defamatory. Maseru senior magistrate, Phethisi Motanyane, on September 8 ordered the radio station’s manager, Sebonomoea Ramainoane, to release the bulletin and programmes to the police.

High Court judge, Justice Semapo Peete on Tuesday declared Motanyane’s order “null and void and of no consequence”.
The judge said the order had been made without following due process of the law.
The High Court order came after Ramainoane was arrested while he was attending a case in which he wanted the court to order the Communications Minister to switch on his radio station.

\The state accused Ramainoane of inciting violence through his radio station. It also accused him of criminally defaming the police following some comments about the deaths of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng and army commander Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo.
The state was also not happy about the comments broadcast by the radio in connection with the alleged torture of Lesotho Congress for Democracy deputy leader Tšeliso Mokhosi in the police’s holding cells.

However, none of the accusations were formally brought against Ramainoane or his radio station as criminal charges.
After the High Court ruled that Ramainoane should ensure that listeners do not make defamatory comments during phone-in programmes the police arrested and took him in for interrogation.

He was however released on the same day without much trouble after intervention by his lawyer Advocate Zwelakhe Mda.
The police wanted him to produce the bulletin and programmes which they believed contained criminally defamatory remarks.
Police Constable Tankiso Lethoko, from the Special Investigation Unit of the Criminal Investigation Division, deposed to an affidavit saying he was investigating a criminal case against the radio and its editor-in-chief, Ramainoane.

Lethoko asked the magistrate to order Ramainoane to release copies of the news bulletin and radio programmes to him.
Asking Justice Peete to set aside Motanyane’s order, Ramainoane said the “order was not preceded by any form of court process”.
“Neither was I afforded an opportunity to make representations before (the magistrate) could issue the said order,” Ramainoane said in an affidavit.
“I have never appeared before any court of law and charged with criminal defamation. Consequently, it is unlawful and a violation of my right to dignity to be described as an accused,” he said.

“I say the entire process of issuing the order was riddled with enormous irregularities, improprieties and illegalities,” he said.
Ramainoane said Motanyane had no jurisdiction to grant the order “as a final order without due process and in violation of the fundamental principles of the requirement to hear the other side.”

He also argued that Motanyane’s order violated his right against self-incrimination protected both under common law and the Bill of Rights.
He said Motanyane granted the order without any legal basis or prima-facie evidence of commission of any offence by him.
Ramainoane said he was shocked and surprised when Motanyane’s order, describing him as the accused, was brought to him by one of his employees.

Ramainoane told a forum of his friends later on Tuesday that the state counsel were “negotiating for ordinary costs whereas MoAfrika and its lawyers are seeking punitive costs to deter the magistracy from continuing with this fraudulent practice and therefore bringing the judiciary into disrepute”.

Staff Reporter

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