Minister wins back father’s estate

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MASERU — Education Minister ’Mamphono Khaketla on Friday won back custody of her late father’s estate after the High Court ruled that agreements entered by her father relating to the property were null and void.

Justice ’Maseshophe  Hlajoane said the court had found out that two transactions which were concluded by Benett Makalo Khaketla, in relation to the property held by him under lease No. 13283-446, were concluded prior to obtaining ministerial consent.

“This renders them invalid and of no legal force and effect,” Justice Hlajoane said in her ruling.

The minister’s late father who was a famous author and politician, and died in 2000, entered into agreements with a company called C&S properties (Pty) Ltd.

C&S Properties is a company duly registered in Lesotho and the majority of its shares are held by non-Basotho and its physical address is Germiston, South Africa, and its postal address is in Gauteng, also in South Africa.

The applicants, Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla, the estate of the late Benett Makalo Khaketla and  Mohlabani  Property Company (Pty) Ltd, had applied to the court to declare an agreement of a sublease between C&S Properties and Khaketla null and void and of no force and effect.

The agreement was entered into on September 9, 1988.

The applicants were suing C&S Properties, Ellerines Furnitures, Dupreez Liebertrau & Company, Lesotho Bank (which was then undergoing liquidation), First Rand Limited Bank (South Africa), Master of the High Court, Registrar of Deeds,
Registrar-General (Companies), Commissioner of Lands and Physical Planning and Attorney-General.

The applicants also asked the court to declare other agreements dated October 31, 1995 which included subletting plot No. 23752 to be also nullified as having no force and effect.

Khaketla had asked the court to declare as null and void the holding of leases No. 13283-446 by the First Rand Bank Limited (South Africa) and that the lease be released to her “upon the first applicant’s payment of outstanding debt owed by second and third applicants to Lesotho Bank.”

Lawyers for the minister had argued during the trial that in terms of the provisions of the Land Act of 1979, which has since been repealed, C&S Properties had no right to hold title to land in Lesotho.

“The court has therefore found out that both transactions which were concluded by the deceased in relation to the property held by him under lease No. 13283-446 were concluded prior to obtaining ministerial consent thus rendering invalid and of no legal force and effect,” Justice Hlajoane said.

“Such provisions have been couched in mandatory terms, thus rendering any non-compliance thereof resulting in invalidity so that whatever transactions relating to the property concluded by the third applicant thereafter also became void and of no legal force and effect.”

Justice Hlajoane also ruled that since Mohlabani Property Company (Pty) Ltd, which is the third applicant, has no stake or title to the property “it is for the Khaketla family to report the deceased’s estate to the Master of the High Court, who will deal with such property in terms of the law”.

Khaketla died in 2000 and left a sizeable estate that included land and buildings.

He was the major shareholder of Mohlabani Property Company (Pty) which owned plot number 13283-446 in the Cathedral Area.

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