Ex-principal sues for defamation

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By Nat Molomo

MASERU — A former principal of Phohlo Primary School in Mokhotlong wants to be paid M50 000 for defamation.

He is suing eight defendants who include a headman and members of the school committee.

At a parents and school committee meeting the defendants are alleged to have said they had come to attend a meeting to discuss the “abuse of girls by the principal of Phohla Primary School, Libete Lehloa Lehloa, who demands sexual intercourse from them.”

The case is before Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase.

In court papers, Libete Lehloa is suing Jonas Lenanya, Tefo Letsoepa, ‘Mautloang Lenanya, Thuso Lehela, ‘Makhotsang Letsoepa, ‘Matlotliso Letsoepa and ‘Matholang Letsoepa for damages.

The defamation suit stems from a report which the defendants made during a parents’ meeting on May 29 2006 at Phohla Primary School in Mokhotlong.

According to court papers, during the meeting the parents are alleged to have said: “We as parents of children attending schools at Ha Phohla attended a pitso, the reason being the abuse of girls by the principal Libete Lehloa Lehola who demand sexual intercourse with them.”

The former principal, who has since been transferred from that school to another district, says the report was presented by the defendants at various meetings attended by several people including teachers, the school management committee, the police and a senior education officer in Mokhotlong.

He told the court that prior to the publication of the report, he was held in great esteem but the allegations potrayed him as “a corrupt, debase, adulterous, sinful and immoral person, with perverse and degenerated understanding of moral values.

“The publication has greatly impaired the plaintiff’s dignity and fame in the eyes of the right thinking members of the society,” his court papers state.

Lehloa says all the defendants are liable to pay damages.

One of the defendants who was a village headman at the time told the court that in May 2006 he was called by the children to the school in question.

“On arrival at the school I found that children had moved the household property of the principal out of his house and people had gathered there,” Letsoepa said.

He testified that he then moved the property of the principal back into the house.

He said there had been a meeting where the children had been asked to call their parents to the school on May 29 that year.

Letsoepa said this was after school children had told the meeting they had removed the property of the principal from the house because they wanted him removed from the school. The witness said the principal was present in that meeting when it was said that he should report the following Monday.

According to the witness, that Monday the principal was nowhere to be seen and the offices and classrooms and kitchen remained locked.

Letsoepa said being one of the parents who had a child at that school, he was among the signatories of three letters asking the authorities where the principal had gone to.

“The letters were written to the senior education officer, officer commanding the police and school management in the district,” he said.

The case continues.

 

 

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