MASERU — Comedian Bofihla ’Neko could be jailed for contempt of court after he allegedly ignored a High Court order and launched Part Two of a film, Lilaphalapha, last month.
’Neko is locked in a bitter legal tussle with his brother-in-law, Napoleon Webster, over the rights of the Lilaphalapha.
’Neko is alleged to have ignored a High Court order interdicting him from launching the second part of the DVD in November last year.
On December 13, Webster filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking ’Neko’s imprisonment.
In the notice of motion, Webster wants ’Neko and a local advertiser Tšepo Thoahlane to show cause why they should not be imprisoned for contempt of court.
Thoahlane allegedly took part in promoting the launch of Lilaphalapha II even after High Court judge Justice Thamsanqa Nomncongo issued an interim order barring such launch.
Webster, a South African citizen living in Ha-Leqele, is the director of Professional Dimensions (Pty) Ltd, together with his wife Rethabile Webster who is also ’Neko’s sister.
He told the High Court in an affidavit that through his company that specialises in multimedia, movies, documentaries and others he asked ’Neko to help him produce a movie, Lilaphalapha Part I.
That was between 2008 and 2009.
“I had decided to source and promote local talent,” Webster says in the affidavit.
“Knowing that he (’Neko) has been involved in several local movie productions including the likes of Kau La Poho, I informed him about my plan to shoot a movie and he recruited actors for me and he got them and I auditioned them,” he said.
“I gave him a script to do and he completed my said assignment, thus we started rehearsing for the shooting of the movie in my house.”
Webster says he met sponsors but before the shooting could begin ’Neko sowed the seeds of distrust among actors and they kept him at arm’s length.
“He started being dodgy and even sold the movie before it could be launched officially,” he said.
He also accuses ’Neko of selling pirated copies of Lilaphalapha.
Webster says he went back to South Africa in 2009 to work at Top TV as a producer for a gospel show in Johannesburg where he stayed until November last year.
Upon his return to Lesotho in November he found ’Neko and Thoahlane “already advertising the launch of Lilaphalapha II.”
“Upon my arrival I made arrangements to resume my movie-making project and this time to continue with the purpose of Lilaphalapha II.
“Only on the 20th day of November 2011 did I learn that the first to second respondents (’Neko and Thoahlane) were already ertising the launch of Lilaphalapha II on the 25th November 2011 (at) the Pioneer Mall.
“I further learnt that the first to second respondents had already registered the name of the company by the name of Lilaphalapha Productions (Pty) Ltd.”
Webster wants the court to order the deregistration of Lilaphalapha Productions saying its registration was “wilfully intended to prejudice” his company, Professional Dimensions.
He argues that Professional Dimensions “enjoys protection to the name Lilaphalapha” irrespective of whether it had been egistered because “it was its novel creation.”
“I aver that the respondents have no right whatsoever to record and produce the movie by the name of Lilaphalapha contrary to applicant’s consent.”
In his answering affidavit, ’Neko says Webster lacks authority to represent Professional Dimensions in this case because “there is no resolution authorising him to act in the manner he has done”.
’Neko also challenges the urgency of Webster’s application saying he did not take any decisive action when he saw him selling pirated copies of Lilaphalapha “but chose to go to his home in South Africa”.
’Neko says he is a comedian in the movie about to be launched and therefore Webster should stop bothering him.
He says he had never signed any contract with Professional Dimensions regarding any rights, copyrights or anything like restraint of trade with it regarding his performances.
He also says Webster should tell the court that Professional Dimensions closed its operations in Lesotho in 2009 and it does not have an office at BNP Centre as alleged.
“Its property (was) auctioned to pay outstanding rentals to BNP Centre,” says ’Neko.
’Neko denies that Webster invited him to help in the movie.
“I met . . . (Webster) while I was already acting and he proposed to fund my project but he could not as he did claim to have the requisite amount of money,” ’Neko said.
“I am an established comedian myself and he never gave me any script. I did not recruit any actors for his project as I already had a team I was acting with, people like Mahapela Mohalenyane. We were never his actors.”
The case is pending in the High Court.