MASERU — Prominent local lawyer, Haae Phoofolo, is suing the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party for M750 000 for defamation of character.
He has also filed a M500 000 suit against the party’s Hoohlo constituency branch chairman, Futho Hoohlo, who he accuses of making false allegations against him at a party meeting.
Both cases were filed in the High Court on December 19.
They are a direct result of Phoofolo’s fallout with the ABC and Hoohlo that started when he announced his intention to represent Lesotho’s second biggest party in next year’s general election.
Phoofolo wants to stand as an ABC candidate for the Maseru Central No 32 constituency but says there are some in the party, including the executive committee, who want to throw banana peels on his way.
He alleges that some in the ABC leadership and Hoohlo have gone on a smear campaign to sabotage his candidature.
Phoofolo, who is also the chairman for the Katlehong branch, says it is because of this “smear campaign” that he has decided to sue his comrades for defamation.
In the first case Phoofolo alleges that Hoohlo lied when he told the party that he “attacked, despised, belittled and insulted” him at the ABC conference on August 27. He says Hoohlo’s words were written in a letter that was read to the
Katlehong and Hoohlo branch committees in Maseru.
The same remarks, Phoofolo alleges, were also stated to the ABC national executive committee.
“The statement by the defendant is false, wrongful and defamatory of the plaintiff,” Phoofolo claims in the court papers, adding that Hoohlo’s words were intended to injure his “good name and reputation”.
Hoohlo’s statements, Phoofolo claims, were intended to mean that he has propensity to attack, despise and to use foul and abusive language at other people, particularly members of the ABC.
Phoofolo further says that the statement was also intended to show that he disrespects Hoohlo and other people.
“It was also intended to show that the plaintiff (Phoofolo) is rowdy and unable to uphold his dignity and the dignity of the defendant and other people.” Phoofolo claims that as a result of Hoohlo’s statement, he has been denied his right to
participate in the affairs of the ABC.
“As a result of the defendant’s statement the plaintiff has been denied his right to participate in the party’s affairs at all levels including the right to stand for party nomination as a parliamentary candidate in the 2012 general elections.”
Phoofolo claims that as a result of Hoohlo’s statements he suffered M500 000 in damages.
In the second lawsuit, Phoofolo is demanding M750 000 from eight defendants. They are Hoohlo, ’Mamothibe Chaole MP for Maseru No.32, Mokheseng Ncheke, Mafonase Hoohlo, famous filmmaker Silas Monyatsi, Lesego Makgothi, Sekhonyana Bereng, and the ABC as a party.
Phoofolo wants interest at the rate of 18.5 percent per annum from date of the issue of this summons until the date of payment.
He said all seven defendants made defamatory statements against him in their capacities as functionaries of the ABC and within the scope of their responsibilities in constituency for and on behalf of the party.
Phoofolo states that on December 7, at a constituency committee meeting held at a place unknown to him the defendants said in Sesotho that he disrupted the ABC leader, Thomas Thabane’s public gathering on November 27 at Katlehong.
Phoofolo quotes the defendants as having said “the chairman of the branch committee Mr Haae Phoofolo should be reported to the National Executive Committee following the obstruction he caused at the leader’s public gathering on November 27, 2011 at Katlehong, as this conduct of Mr Phoofolo constitutes unacceptable behaviour, and should be quickly communicated to the National Executive Committee”.
Phoofolo said a person who chaired that meeting, one or all the seven defendants said “Mr Haae Phoofolo should be expelled from the ABC/Kobo-tata as a result of his apparent intentions to stand in the way of the business of the party.”
These statements, Phoofolo argues, are malicious, false, wrongful and defamatory and they intended to influence the addressees and the party leadership to hold him in “contempt and hatred”.
He also claims that the statements were meant to portray him as a “busybody who engages himself in disturbing and obstructing the smooth running of the organisation as big as the ABC party”.
He says the people understood the statement to mean that he is “disrespectful”, “contemptuous” and has a “distasteful conduct” and is of low morals.