Minister sues Mapesela

Minister sues Mapesela

MASERU – MINING Minister Serialong Qoo has filed a M1 million defamation suit against Tefo Mapesela, leader of the Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP).
Qoo, who is also the spokesman for the Democratic Congress (DC), is also suing KEL Radio, which is owned by the Lesotho Evangelical Church of Southern Africa.

He also wants the court to order Mapesela and the radio station to apologise.
In papers filed in the High Court yesterday, Qoo says Mapesela tarnished his reputation when he called him a diamond thief during a radio programme.
“Diamonds were stolen. You call Qoo and make him meet with me on this radio of yours for me to tell him (that) you are lying you (Qoo) stole diamonds,” Mapesela’s interview with the presenter is translated from Sesotho.

“You stole diamonds with your companions. They did not have value,” Mapesela is quoted as saying.
“Qoo and Mokhothu (Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu) and others stole diamonds… I am the one who is saying so…they are thieves, the members of DC…” Qoo is asking the court to order Mapesela to run the apology on the same radio programme on three consecutive days.
The apology, he says, should read like this: “I apologise for saying Member of Parliament Mr Serialong Qoo has stolen diamonds. I had not yet sought the official report from the Ministry of Mines. My words were a political stunt and were untrue as I had not verified the information I publicised. I unreservedly apologise to MP Serialong Qoo. I am sorry. I withdraw my statement that he stole diamonds as that is not the truth.”

His lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, told the court in papers that KEL Radio has a wide listenership in Maseru and throughout Lesotho.
“Its programmes are further recorded and re-transmitted through social media,” Advocate Molati said in the papers.
He said the words uttered about Qoo were “false, wrong, inaccurate and misleading”.
“The publication is full of lies which are calculated to tarnish the good images of the plaintiff in society,” he said.

“The said words, in the context of the radio publication, are wrongful, unlawful and defamatory of plaintiff in that they were intended and were understood by listeners of the aforementioned radio station that plaintiff is bad and dishonest.”
He said the words depict Qoo as a thief of diamonds and unworthy of respect and trust.
He said by publishing those statements Mapesela and KEL Radio “were reckless in that they did not care whether the claims were true or false alternatively that they carried an innuendo about plaintiff”.
“They took no reasonable steps to establish and/or to investigate the truth of the claims which they published recklessly about the plaintiff,” the court papers read.

Qoo also asks the court to order that Mapesela should pay interest at 18.5 percent per annum from the date of judgment.
Mapesela and the radio have seven days to respond.
The lawsuit comes as Mapesela is locked in another court case in which he is asking the Constitutional Court to order the Speaker of Parliament to allow a secret vote in the motion to oust Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro.

Staff Reporter

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