Total Lesotho boss in trouble

Total Lesotho boss in trouble

MASERU – TOTAL Lesotho Managing Director, Onward Tubela, is in hot water for allegedly violating a court order.
An employee of Total Lesotho wants the company and Tubela charged for contempt of court for allegedly defying a court order.
Thabang Maphike filed a complaint accusing the company and Tubela of taking away immovable assets attached by the High Court.

Maphike was granted the order stopping the removal of the assets after arguing that the case in which he is suing the company for unfair dismissal is still pending in the courts.
Maphike also wants to block the sale of Total Lesotho to Puma Energy Mauritius Limited until he has been paid his terminal benefits.
Total Lesotho’s assets that included filling stations were sold to Puma in a deal sealed earlier this year.

Maphike however says the M42 million transaction should not have happened because Total Lesotho owes him.
He claims the company owes him over M1 million which he says Total Lesotho might not pay because the assets protected by the court orders are being spirited away.
In his affidavit Maphike claims that he discovered that “fuel has been dissipated from the attached fuel tanks causing the court to lock all gates of the attached properties but even to date respondents are continuing to violate court’s order by operating”.

Maphike says he has also “found out that there was dissipation of assets including office furniture, machiness, fuel, and groceries at the filling station”.
“I aver that there is continuous full activity of the sale, repatriation and dissipation of attached fuel and property from the premises of Total Lesotho,” Maphike says.
He says he is afraid that the assets would be taken to South Africa, outside the jurisdiction of Lesotho courts since they are closing down its business in Lesotho.
Thabang Mokhothu, the sheriff of High Court who locked the gates of the depot, confirmed that there has been continuous contempt of the court’s order.

Maphike had lodged the case with the Labour Court and when he suspected that the officials could leave Lesotho he approached the High Court seeking the attachment of properties.
Some property worth M3.1 million at fuel stations in Maseru and Maputsoe were attached in February this year.
Maphike’s lawyer Advocate Borenahabokhethe Sekonyela argued in court “that the whole transaction left Basotho in total disperse especially those who were employed by Total Lesotho as their employment contracts fate is covered by a dark cloud”.

The court attached the properties after Maphike challenged the transaction saying he was afraid that Total South Africa would take some of it to South Africa, outside the Lesotho courts’ jurisdiction.

Maphike was also afraid that Puma would not pay him after buying Total Lesotho’s facilities. He also alleged that the transaction between Total South Africa and Puma was unlawful.
The assets identified for attachment were an office block, storage tanks, and products in the tanks (diesel, paraffin and premium), lube store, loading pumps, pipelines and Maputsoe filing station.
His labour dispute case was before the Labour Court but since the court doesn’t have power or jurisdiction to attach the property, it was taken to the High Court for intervention.

A Change of Ownership notification written by Total South Africa to Total Lesotho stated that the filling station has been sold and the formal handover was done on 26 February 2018.
“The letter serves to formally inform you that the operations of Total Lesotho (Pty) Ltd located at Motšoene industrial area Maseru Lesotho has been sold to Puma Mauritius Energy Limited. The change of ownership will be effective from 28 February 2018.

“The new operation will be rebranded to Puma. All the payments that will be made after the 28 February 2018 must be paid in the name of Puma. Puma will notify you of the change in bank details in due course,” the letter partly reads. The case is still continuing.

Majara Molupe

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