Fired defence minister fights back

Seeks M3m for alleged defamation

RELEBOHILE TSOAMOTSE

MASERU – Outspoken Agriculture and Marketing Minister, Tefo Mapesela, has been slapped with a M3 million lawsuit for allegedly defaming the recently sacked defence minister Lekhetho Mosito.

Also Member of Parliament (MP) for Likhetlane constituency, Mosito is demanding this payment in compensation for the defamatory remarks Mapesela he says were made about him over a local radio station a fortnight ago. Mosito says the remarks were aimed at lowering his esteem and portraying him as a person of low moral turpitude who has no capacity to be a member of the cabinet.

Mapesela made several claims about Mosito in an interview with People’s Choice FM, wherein he uttered statements to the effect that Mosito actively engaged in a criminal activity while still serving as a soldier and that he stole military rifles from the army’s armoury – weapons which were used to kill people at Maputsoe, Leribe, resulting in him being fired from the military, convicted and sent to jail for four years.

Mapesela is also reported to have said Mosito does not have the requisite capacity to lead national security forces because “he himself is a rebel who had been discharged from the army on account of his errant and or criminal behavior.”

He further charged that Mosito is a disloyal politician who is not driven by principles, and is not supportive of the incumbent Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro. In his capacity as prime minister Majoro had recommended for appointment as defence and national security minister.

On top of that, Mapesela is said to have claimed in the interview with the radio station that Mosito is a potential threat to the country and that his appointment as minister would attract and embolden his threat to the security of the country. The remarks came at the back of Mosito’s appointment as defence minister two weeks ago. He was appointed to the position following the dismissal of Prince Maliehe who had held the position.

Mapesela disapproved the appointment and publicly criticized it. Prime Minister Majoro subsequently relieved Mosito of his duties and is yet to find a substitution. It is these claims that the fired minister is unhappy with, and alleges that they are not only false but also defamatory.

He says he is aggrieved and humiliating by the demeaning remarks hence the decision to approach the court for intervention. The radio station, along with the presenter who was on duty during the programme, have been cited as respondents. “It is specifically pleaded that the defamatory remarks complained of were aimed at lowering the Plaintiff in esteem and portraying him as an undisciplined soldier, criminal and a person of low moral turpitude who has no capacity to be a member of the cabinet and least of all Minister of Defence and National security,” Mosito contends.

He further states that PC FM broadcast of the utterances by Mapesela has the effect of portraying him as a convicted criminal and as a person ineligible for any public office and a disloyal politician with no principles.

“The radio broadcast depicted the plaintiff as both irresponsible and of low moral character and such remarks achieved the objective of humiliating and or undermining plaintiff’s esteem and character and disseminated to the nation at large with the potential of affecting him as a career politician.”

According to the Likhetlane MP, Mapesela’s remarks as broadcast by PC FM attracted grave prejudice to his reputation both as a Member of Parliament and as a member of the Executive while also leaving “a huge dent to his personal dignity as well.”

He adds that the broadcast lowered his esteem among his peers in political circles both in his career as politician of note and amongst the ordinary electors some of whom hold him in high esteem and family alike.

It is Mosito’s case that both Mapesela and the radio station are liable for the defamatory remarks and thereby demands the M3 million in damages. “The said wrongful, unlawful and or utterly malicious broadcast of defamatory remarks occasioned substantial damages to the plaintiff and that adversely affected his reputation and esteem.

Alternatively, Mosito is seeking payment of a million and haft towards compensation arguing that Mapesala’s injurious and malicious attack and assault on his dignity and esteem was a brazen attack and unfounded aggression upon his dignity.”

The attack on his dignity, he claims, achieved the end of publicly demeaning and subjecting him to offensive and degrading treatment and or judgement by his peers in the political circles or careers as well as ordinary electorates. Mapesela and the radio station both have two weeks to indicate their opposition to the claim.

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