Smally Trading won uniform case

Smally Trading won uniform case

MASERU – ON July 26, we published a story headlined, Uniform deal haunts police, in which we said businesswoman, Leonia Mosothoane’s firm, Smally Trading Company (Pty) Ltd, had lost a case in the courts against Lekhotla Matšaba and others.
The story was not correct.

The fact is that Mosothoane eventually won the case, after legal tussling that saw her go back and forth in the courts.
Mosothoane had argued that the Ministry of Police had corruptly awarded a tender to supply police uniforms to two unqualified companies, Cubana Shells, and Naleli Outdoor Advertising.
The police ministry had issued an open tender and later withdrew it without clear reasons.

Mosothoane’s Smally Trading Company had tendered and felt it had prospects of winning.
The ministry, after withdrawing the open tender, selectively awarded it to Cubana Shells and Naleli Outdoor Advertising.
Mosothoane challenged the decision in the Commercial Court where she lost on points of law.

She appealed and lost again but this time with the Court of Appeal giving her a chance to approach the Commercial Court again so that it could deal with the merits of the case.
She did so and lost in the Commercial Court.
The Commercial Court judge Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane ruled that her court lacked jurisdiction because Mosothoane had not exhausted local remedies.
Justice Chaka-Makhooane had also said her judgment would be academic and moot because the uniforms had already been supplied and the suppliers paid.
Mosothoane appealed again.

This time she won. The then Acting President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Farlam, criticised the Chaka-Makhooane ruling after Cubana Shells’ lawyer Advocate Salemane Phafane KC argued that Mosothoane could address the merits of the case in her action for damages.
Justice Farlam said Phafane’s concession was fatal in that it actually said “there were still matters in actual controversy between the parties which had been issues in the case before Chaka-Makhooane J and were still live”.

“In my view this concession was fatal to the contention that the appeal was moot,” Justice Farlam said.
He said the ministry may be liable to pay damages to the complainant despite the fact that it has already received and paid for the goods covered by the tender.
“In the circumstances I am of the view that the appeal must succeed with costs,” the judge said.
We apologise for the mix-up in reading the judgments.
– Editor

Staff Reporter

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