BNP, businessman in row over property

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MASERU — The Basotho National Party (BNP) is embroiled in a dispute with a local businessman over a commercial site in Mafeteng, the Lesotho Times heard on Tuesday.

The BNP is appealing in the Court of Appeal against a High Court ruling that granted an Indian businessman, Faroog Issa, the right to occupy a site that belongs to the party.

The court heard that Issa had entered into an agreement with members of the BNP constituency in Mafeteng to exchange sites for commercial purposes in July 1998.

Issa’s plot was No. 07471-034 which he had previously bought from one Michael Sefali and the BNP’s site was No. 07471-004.

Under the agreement rentals were supposed to be paid into the BNP account for a period of five years, the court heard.

According to court papers the agreement for the exchange was signed by Issa and Makhobalo Sempe who signed on behalf of the Mafeteng constituency committee.

Ali Mahomed signed as a witness.

Issa argues the agreement was blessed by the BNP national executive committee.

But Advocate Kananelo Mosito KC told the court on Tuesday that the agreement between Issa and the BNP Mafeteng constituency committee was null and void as it did not comply with the mandatory requirements of section 35 and 36
of the Land Act 1979.

“It is common cause that there was no ministerial consent for this transaction. This fact is not disputed,” Mosito said.

He said Issa had no clear right to seek an interdict in as much as the purported transaction of handing over the lessee’s plot to another without ministerial consent was a nullity.

“Since the transaction was a nullity, it is submitted that the respondent (Issa) had no locus standi to claim the interdict sought in the notice of motion.

“It is accordingly submitted that the learned judge aquo erred in holding as she did by granting the respondent the relief in the notice of motion,” Mosito said.

He submitted that Issa had developed the plot by building a wholesale, an office, and erecting a wall fence worth M1.2 million.

He said the High Court should have dismissed the application and that the court had erred in granting the costs of the application to the BNP.

“It is respectfully submitted that it may please the court to uphold the appeal with costs, and alter the High Court judgment to read that the application is dismissed with costs,” Mosito said.

However Advocate S Ratau, for Issa, said the appeal must be dismissed with costs.

He said the court was correct in granting the orders.

“A mistake of law does not prevent a person from being a bona fide possessor. It was wrong for the BNP to demand rentals from Dr Abdullah Shouman who is the tenant at the property,” Advocate S Ratau said.

He submitted that Issa had occupied the land for more than 10 years as opposed to five years which the two parties had agreed upon.

“We are not told why only in the 11th year the appellants resorted to self-help when they have been silent all the time.

“It is common cause that the appellant (BNP) without resort to due process abrogated to themselves the right to demand and receive rent from the tenant (Shouman).”

Ratau said Issa had proved that he stood to suffer grave prejudice as he and his family depended entirely on the income generated by the premises.

The case was before Justices Hurt, AJ Douglas Scott and Craig T Howie.

Judgment will be handed down on October 21.

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