SUSPENDED Ambassador to the United States of America, Advocate Kelebone Maope, has been granted an interdict allowing him to continue his benefits and have access to his office until his court application against an envisaged government of Lesotho probe into his alleged misconduct probe has been finalised by the High Court.
The interdict was granted last Friday by Justice Semapo Peete after Advocate Maope, who is also Lesotho’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), had filed an application against an urgent application before the High Court seeking to prevent the government from investigating him for unspecified alleged misconduct in New York in the USA.
The government on 27 December 2017 wrote to Advocate Maope suspending him from office as ambassador and Permanent Representative with immediate effect pending investigations into his alleged misconduct.
The letter states that he would be entitled to his monthly salary and his residence but he is prevented from entering his work premises until the probe is over.
Part of the letter reads: “This serves to inform you that you are hereby being suspended from your official duties of Lesotho’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, effective from 27 December 2017.”
“You are, however, prohibited to enter the premises of Lesotho-New York and/or to use any other property owned or leased by Lesotho New York including an official car which will continue to serve the mission’s daily operations.”
Advocate Maope subsequently filed an urgent before the High Court challenging the decision.
He cited the Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lesego Makgothi and International Relations and the Attorney General as first to third respondents respectively.
Justice Peete last Friday ordered that Advocate Maope be allowed access to his offices, continue receiving his salary and use the official car until the case has been finalised.
He also ordered that the case should be heard on 19 January this year.
In his application, Advocate Maope, wants the respondents to ‘show cause’ why his suspension “as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the United Nations in New York, USA, shall not be reviewed, corrected and set aside.”
He also wants the respondents to ‘show cause’ why “the respondent’s decision to conduct an investigation into the applicant’s alleged act(s) of misconduct shall not be reviewed, corrected and set aside.”
Motivating his application Advocate Maope made an affidavit stating the background of the events that led to his lawsuit.
He states that the Principal Secretary wrote to him suspending him from his duties to allow investigations into what he says was his alleged misconduct during the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ visit in New York on the occasion of the General Conference of the International Court of Justice last month.
“I humbly submit that the decision to investigate alleged act(s) of misconduct against me, my suspension, as well as its terms, are unfair, irregular, irrational, unlawful and invalid for the following reasons:
“The decision to conduct an investigation against me is very drastic and constitute a blot on my dignity and reputation and it should have been made following a fair process.
“I should have been informed of the allegations made against me and invited to ‘show cause’ why an investigation should not be conducted against me,” part of his affidavit reads.
“The suspension can only be calculated to create embarrassing curiosity about my status as Ambassador and a diplomatic incident that can only do harm to the image of Lesotho. There are no time frames about how long the suspension and the investigation will last.”
He further argues his suspension will prevent him from attending some of the events beneficial to Lesotho.
He reiterates: “The allegation of misconduct against me is completely unfounded.”
Advocate Maope is in his second term in New York as Lesotho’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative.
He first went on the mission in 2012 on three year contract.
His second term began on 5 July 2016 and ends on 5 July 2019.