TAUNG — Former trade minister Mpho Malie is embroiled in a dispute with the headman of Mats’oareng over a piece of land in Mohale’s Hoek.
Malie, whose business interests include the Black Swan Bed & Breakfast and a stake in the Pioneer Mall, has fenced off a big site on the slope of Silooe Mountain in Mats’oareng.
He plans to build a motel on the site.
But the Mats’oareng headman, Makhamise Lets’oara, says Malie took the land without local authority approval.
He says the land still belongs to Mats’oareng community and Malie should stop plans to develop the site.
Malie says he acquired the site “over 10 years ago” when he was still the MP for Taung constituency and the minister of trade.
He says he has papers to prove his ownership.
Malie and Lets’oara have been fighting over the site for the past five years.
Lets’oara says during that time he approached the district administrator for Mohale’s Hoek, Ramatla ’Makong, for intervention but the dispute has remained unresolved.
He recently approached the ombudsman’s office for intervention.
“It is now being dealt with by the office of the Ombudsman,” Lets’oara said this week, adding that even these latest initiatives have not helped solve the dispute because the district administrator does not seem keen to deal with it.
“Every time when I go to the office (ombudsman) to inquire how far they are with it they pick telephones to talk to the Mohale’s Hoek DA who seems not keen to entertain it.”
Lets’oara said he was not willing to discuss the matter in detail because “it will be sub judice as the ombudsman is now seized with the issue”.
’Makong confirmed his office had launched investigations into allegations that Malie took the land without approval.
’Makong however declined to divulge the details of the case saying he would only discuss it after his office has met all parties involved.
“I am not at liberty to talk about this now because we are still investigating the allegations,” ’Makong said.
“We will go to Silooe (under which Mats’oareng falls) and find out from the authorities there what happened,” he said.
The Silooe ward chief, ’Matiti Thulo, said she had not seen the documents to prove that Malie was lawfully allocated the land.
“We have no records that show that community development committee and the chief allocated the land to Malie.”
’Mahlompho Morake, a local community councilor, also said the council did not have any proof that the site belonged to Malie.
“The community development committee, which we replaced when the councils were elected in 2005, did not tell us anything about Ntate Malie owning that site,” Morake said.
Malie told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday that the site was allocated to him by the village chief of Ha-Moletsane, a village bordering Mats’oareng.
“The dispute emerged only five years ago when I erected a fence around the site,” Malie said.
“All along, for over 10 years, nobody complained about me acquiring that site.
“The site was allocated to me before the election of the community councils and therefore it is expected that the current council might not know much about it.
“Some of the members of the erstwhile community development committee who were there when this site was allocated to me are still alive and they can testify,” he said.
Lets’oara however says it is impossible that the chief of Ha-Moletsane could have allocated the land to Malie because that site has always been under his jurisdiction.