MASERU — Former Letšeng Diamond Mine security manager Bofihla Makhalane is suing Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki for M20 million.
Makhalane, a former assistant police commissioner, filed papers in the High Court on Tuesday claiming that Moleleki instigated his dismissal from Letšeng Diamond Mine in October 2007 and should therefore pay him damages.
Makhalane also wants Mosisili to pay him for allegedly declining to intervene in his fight with Moleleki.
Makhalane claims Mosisili refused to establish a commission to investigate Moleleki’s alleged involvement in his dismissal from the diamond mine.
He alleges that the minister interfered with the courts when he tried to sue the diamond company.
Makhalane also says he was fired from Letšeng because he had “minimised” and plugged loopholes that some senior managers were allegedly using to steal diamonds.
He is claiming M10 million for general damages, M5 million for contumelia and another M5 million for economic loss at an interest rate of 18.5 percent per annum from the date of judgment to the date of payment.
Government secretary Tlohang Sekhamane is expected to represent the government in the suit.
Makhalane in his court papers says he became a member of the executive committee for Letšeng Diamonds when he was appointed a security manager in April 2006.
His duty was to ensure that diamonds were safe and that there was proper security against theft by employees and outside forces.
“He did this by liaising with the national security forces and by close supervision of the sub-contracted security companies. So, the attempts and efforts by some employees who wanted to steal the diamonds were frustrated most of the time,” reads Makhalane’s declaration to the High Court.
“Some employees, including some senior managers, were not happy that the plaintiff had minimised the opportunities for theft of diamonds.”
Makhalane said before his appointment the then production manager John Houghton “had shared some diamonds which were full in the bottle of canned-fruit found by one employee of the sub-contracted company which was demolishing the De-Beers steel-structures named Peter; nicknamed Peter Scrap.” (sic)
Houghton is now the current general manager.
Makhalane says former chief executive officer Keith Whitelock and Houghton were bringing some cheap, low quality diamonds from elsewhere and exchanging them with good quality diamonds from Letšeng, but maintaining the same number of carats or weight.
“After the arrival of the plaintiff at Letšeng, those illegal operations by some employees and part of management were highly minimised, hence the complaint, displeasure and the discomfort.
“The senior Letšeng management could not explain how they had acquired the polished diamonds they were selling to senior members of staff and why the plaintiff (Makhalane) was not informed prior to acquiring those diamonds and their sale as the security manager.”
Makhalane alleges that Whitelock and the then general manager, Moruti Mphatšoe, informed him that Moleleki had instructed them to fire him for being a member of an “opposition party”.
Makhalane says he learnt later that Houghton knew about Moleleki’s instruction and he set about accusing him (Makhalane) of removing breathalisers from the control room of Stallion Security Company, a sub-contracted firm whose main function was to monitor the safety of diamonds at Letšeng.
Moleleki and Houghton are close friends, Makhalane alleges.
Makhalane says Whitelock promised to protect him but he failed since Moleleki, who is the second defendant in the lawsuit, “was seemingly very fierce in his fight to dismiss him” (sic).
He then challenged his dismissal at the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR).
Makhalane says he wrote Moleleki on two occasions asking him to intervene and address the matter but he refused.
He then wrote Mosisili in September 2008, September 2009 and December 2009.
Mosisili allegedly promised to intervene but never did.
Makhalane maintains that Mosisili’s letter dated January 19, 2010 “had clearly indicated that he was taking sides with” Moleleki.
He says he wrote Mosisili again on February 22, 2009 but the prime minister did not respond but “did minute that letter”.
That letter, Makhalane says, was attached to Letšeng’s answering affidavit in a case he had lodged in the High Court.
“How they got that letter is still a puzzle.”
Makhalane says that letter had a lot of influence on the presiding judge since he “kept asking what the prime minister’s letter was doing there”.
He further alleges that when he tried to privately prosecute the perpetrators involved, Moleleki once again interfered with that process.
Mosisili and Moleleki are expected to respond to the lawsuit within 30 days from yesterday when the summonses were issued.
Letšeng Diamond Mine is a subsidiary of the London listed Gem Diamonds.
Gem Diamonds owns 70 percent of Letšeng while the Lesotho government controls the remainder.
The Lesotho Times could not independently verify Makhalane’s allegations against Moleleki, Mosisili and Letšeng’s management.
Makhalane is also suing the Lesotho Times for a previous story in which he was the main source.