The Prime Minister’s Political Advisor, Fako Likoti, was yesterday served with a letter of demand from Mahao family spokesperson, Lehloenya Mahao, who is claiming M1 million for defamation.
Mr Mahao accuses Dr Likoti of offending him through a letter he wrote to the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) chief executive officer last week.
According to Mr Mahao’s lawyers, Mosotho Attorneys, Dr Likoti has 30 days to pay the money or face legal action. Mr Mahao’s brother, Maaparankoe, was shot dead on 25 June 2015 by his military colleagues who had come to arrest him for alleged mutiny. The death of the former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF)commander has since become the subject of an investigation by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and soured relations between the Mahao family and some government officials.
Reads the lawyers’ letter: “We have been instructed by Mr Lehloenya Mahao regarding the contents of your letter dated 5 January 2015 and addressed to the Chief Executive – Lesotho Communications Authority.
“In your said letter, a copy of which is in our possession, you make the following serious allegations against our client: He claimed that the Lesotho government paid M100 000 towards a Mr Hashatsi case; that the above alleged statement by our client is fallacious; that the above alleged statement is malicious; and that the above alleged statement was rubbed on listeners of Harvest FM.
“Your above letter found its way to several media houses and social media. The contents thereof have thus become a matter of national scrutiny. Our instructions are that your allegations against our client are baseless, wrongful, and malicious; meant only to undermine and or impair Mr Lehloenya Mahao’s good name, reputation and esteem in which he is held by the nation at large.”
The lawyers noted the allegations in this regard were further “calculated to portray Mr Mahao as a liar who is out to disrespect, ridicule and tarnish the authority of the government of Lesotho. Your malicious and or reckless allegations in this regard have indeed reflected negatively on Mr Mahao’s character in the eyes of members of society. We thus claim from you an amount of M1 million as damages for defamation.”
The lawyers added Mr Mahao’s letter served as a formal notice “that unless the payment is made within 30 days, we shall begin legal proceedings against you without further notice.”
The letter is dated 13 January 2016 and also bears Dr Likoti’s office stamp indicating it was received the same day.
Mr Mahao confirmed he was taking action against Dr Likoti but would not go into details of the case. On his part, Dr Likoti refused to comment when contacted yesterday, insisting “let us talk tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, in his 5 January 2016 letter to LCA Chief Executive Officer, Tšeliso ‘Mokela, and also copied to Communications Minister Khotso Letsatsi as well as Harvest FM management, Dr Likoti noted:
“Today, 5 January 2016, the above-radio station hosted one Mr Lehloenya Mahao on its morning programme. Mr Mahao made a claim that (the) Lesotho government paid M100 000 towards Mr Hashatsi’s case. The programme convener even urged Mr Mahao to repeat on air this serious allegation without getting government’s side.
“This fallacious statement was rubbed on listeners without the programme convener even establishing the truth about this. This malicious allegation was therefore entertained by Ms Mphana without even trying to establish the truth.”
Dr Likoti added it Harvest FM had “become one of the radio stations that has embarked on a campaign to demonise and cast negative aspersions against the government of Lesotho.”
He said it is on the basis that “we ask your good office to take stern measures against the radio station.”