Judge recuses self in PC FM case

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MASERU — A High Court judge has recused himself from a case involving People’s Choice FM’s top management, saying he personally knew both the applicant and respondent.
Justice Semapo Peete recused himself on Christmas Eve saying he knew PC FM executive chairman, Mohau Thakaso, and one of the directors, Hubbard Monaheng, who are at each other’s throat over control of the company.
The Lesotho Times has established Peete is closely related to Thakaso’s wife, ’Mahabofanoe.
Peete’s mother and ’Mahabofanoe’s father are children of the late Chief Motsarapane Molapo.
Peete and ’Mahabofanoe are therefore cousins.
Thakaso on Tuesday confirmed to the Lesotho Times that his wife and Peete are cousins.
He however declined to comment further.
This paper has not yet established how Peete and Monaheng know each other.
Peete, however, recused himself from the case after he stopped the execution of an order he had made two days earlier in the same matter.
Peete had on December 22 ordered PC FM bankers, Standard Lesotho Bank to allow Thakaso and another director, Teboho Mothae, to operate the company’s accounts as the lawful signatories.
Signatories to the company’s cheque and call accounts at the Standard Lesotho Bank were the suspended station manager Kholu Qhobela, company accountant ’Mamalang Molatseli and Monaheng until Thakaso and Mothae acquired the court order.
When this case was placed before Peete on December 22, he had presided over it and made an order despite his relationship with Thakaso, through his wife.
Peete also agreed to stay execution of the same order on December 24, when Monaheng and other company members filed an application before him.
Peete was confirming an interim order granted by Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane that Thakaso, Mothae and PC FM managing director Motlatsi Majara were the only lawful signatories to the company’s bank accounts.
Hlajoane’s December 16 order relied on the board of directors’ July 3, 2006 resolution that Thakaso together with any of the two directors could sign.
Monaheng and his fellow applicants said they were shocked by Hlajoane and Peete’s orders.
“I aver that the applicants and myself were shocked to the marrow when — on the 23rd December 2009 — we learned of an interim court order that had been granted in favour of the 1st Respondent (Thakaso) whose effect is to prohibit us from transacting in these bank accounts,” said Monaheng in his affidavit.
Monaheng told the court he is chairman of the company’s board of directors and a signatory to the bank accounts.
He is also managing director of Wrenjos Holdings, which he said is the majority shareholder of People’s Choice Broadcasting Studios (PCBS) that trades as PC FM.
Monaheng said the rulings would “unfairly” give Thakaso access to the funds without their knowledge.
He said Thakaso is “resolute in perfecting his skills in snatching court orders.”
This was not the first time Peete had presided over a case involving Thakaso.
In 2000, Thakaso filed an application at the High Court challenging his suspension as a public relations officer from the Lesotho Football Association.
Peete dismissed Thakaso’s application with costs.

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