Orphanage ex-partners clash over funds



MASERU – A dispute over funding allocated for an orphanage has sparked a rift between former partners who once managed an orphanage in Sekamaneng, Berea, leading to legal action. The former partners are now embroiled in a legal battle over ownership rights to a plot formerly utilised for the orphanage they jointly operated.

Central to the dispute are three non-governmental organisations: Lesotho Durham Link, God’s Love Centre, and Thato Child and Youth Centre. Rets’elisitsoe Moleqa, 58, and his former girlfriend Neo Motantši established Thato Child and Youth Centre, registering it along with other family members as committee members in 2006.

During proceedings before High Court Judge Polo Banyane, it was revealed how the deterioration of the relationship between Moleqa and Motantši led to the latter registering God’s Love Centre. The latter organisation currently occupies the premises originally belonging to Thato Child and Youth Centre.

Moleqa testified before the land court division of the High Court this week, recounting that Motantši, (his former girlfriend), was involved in the establishment of Thato Child and Youth Centre, where they shared the experience of nurturing their relationship.

However, while still a member, Motantši established God’s Love Centre, which currently operates from the disputed site, effectively side-lining him through formal documentation. According to Moleqa, Motantši assumed the role of chairperson and took charge of the orphanage’s administration, including regular interactions with stakeholders.

In late 2006, Moleqa informed the court that they received a Christmas card from donors expressing their intention to contribute to Thato Child and Youth Centre. He explained that the donors would stay at Lesotho Durham Link during their visits to Lesotho and that when they eventually donated money, they deposited the funds into the Lesotho Durham Link bank account because the orphanage did not have its own account at the time. This, Moleqa claims, became the catalyst for misunderstandings.

Furthermore, Moleqa disclosed that the donors had appointed a representative to assist and oversee the construction work planned for the orphanage. Construction progressed as planned, but several months later, Moleqa learned of the alleged transfer of Thato Child and Youth Centre to Lesotho Durham Link. He said the site was originally owned by his parents but was donated to the orphanage “as our parents loved caring for children.” However, he disputes being party to the sale and maintains that the land rightfully belongs to Thato Child and Youth Center. The alleged deed of sale indicates that the site was sold to Lesotho Durham Link for M28,000, but Moleqa disagrees. He explained to Justice Banyane that the M28,000 he received was from donors, who stated it was an expression of appreciation to the Moleqa family for donating their plot to the orphanage. He said the actual amount received was M40,000, but Motantši appropriated M6,000, claiming it was to settle the orphanage’s debts. Another M6,000 was also utilised to clear debts. Moleqa asserts that the alleged deed of transfer is fraudulent and questions how his name appeared as a seller.

He stated: “I do not recognise that document, nor have I seen the original. I have not sold any land to Durham Link as alleged, and I request that this court investigate the authenticity of such a document.” In 2017, Lesotho Durham Link, Lesotho Durham Link Trust, and God’s Love Centre jointly sued Moleqa, seeking a court order to compel him to agree to the division of the contested land “into plots that clearly demarcate and separate the property sold to the first applicant as per the sale of property agreement.”

Additionally, the organisations asked the court to hold Moleqa personally liable “for deeds and actions he undertook under the name Thato Child and Youth Centre.” They also sought an injunction against the Lesotho Land and Administration Authority (LAA) to prevent any consent application for transferring the portion of land where God’s Love Centre stands to another party.

Alternatively, the plaintiffs requested the court annul the alleged sale of the site to Durham Link and order Moleqa to reimburse the monies paid to him and bear responsibility for all acts related to the purchase and sale agreement of the property. They further demanded that Moleqa compensate for structural improvements made to the plot. According to the submitted documents and evidence, the plaintiffs allege that personal relationships deteriorated among the founding members, leading to the orphanage’s name changing from Thato Child and Youth Centre to God’s Love Centre, thus justifying their continued occupation of the land.

“The chairperson, Neo Motantši, continued to manage the affairs of the centre and still does so under the new name of God Love’s Centre.” The documents also claim that following the deterioration of relations, Motantši approached Durham Link seeking sponsorship for the centre. As a result, assistance was provided in the form of developing a portion of the plot, and negotiations ensued to purchase that part of the land for God’s Love Centre, eventually leading to the sale of the property.

It is alleged that the sale was finalised, with Stephen Likome Mabula, the then Chief Executive Officer, completing the purchase of the plot on behalf of Durham Link.

“Following the completion of the physical structures on the plot bought by the first applicant for the benefit of the third applicant, an application was submitted to the Lesotho Electricity Company by and in the name of the third applicant. A document showing that the agreement that was eventually signed and which led to the installation of electricity at the centre’s building is attached as proof that the third applicant, from the date of the sale of property, considered itself the legitimate holder of that plot.”

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