HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
by the Hon. Sir Peter Allen on the 16th day of June, 1987
plaintiff brought this action for patrimonial damages for trespass to
property. The defendant was' served with a summons on
30 January 1987
but he did not enter an appearance or file a defence. The plaintiff
therefore proceeded ex parte with formal proof.
plaintiff (P.W.1) is a married woman with six children and her
husband works in the mines in the R.S.A. Their home is at Koebung,
Janefeke, Lesobeng in Thaba-Tseka District.
of her income she grows a field of wheat to sell in order to feed and
clothe herself and her children.
July 1986 she was awakened at around midnight by a child who reported
that her wheat was burning. She went to the scene. Meanwhile
witness Mathai Moeketsi
was holding a feast at his home. One of the people attending called
their attention to the burning wheat and they all rushed
scene. A boy named Sebako ran ahead and called to Moeketsi, "Do
you see this one?" and pointed at a man who was
setting fire to
the last heap of wheat. The man stood up and ran away. By the light
of the fire Moeketsi recognised him as - the
defendant Theko whom he
had known all his life in that village. The witness saw the
defendant's face and clothes clearly and recognised
him before he
plaintiff testified that the defendant's horses had trespassed into
her field and had damaged her wheat which had been cut and
ready to be made into bales. She had reported this to the chief who
had designated two men to go and inspect the damage
on the next day.
However, that night the wheat was burned and the plaintiff thought
that the defendant had done this so as to hide
the amount of damage
that had been done to the crop by his horses.
stated that she was expecting to get four bales each of six bags of
wheat from the crop. Each bag would contain eight tins each
kgs. i.e. 100 kgs. per bag. The plaintiff asserted that she could
expect to sell a bag at M.80 and that this rather high
price was due
to the isolation of their village and the distance and difficulty in
carrying the bags by horse down to Thaba-Tseka.
She added that they
used to exchange one bag for two sheep or goats. She asked for an
award of M.3,000.
witness Moeketsi stated that in their area a bag would sell for about
M.60-80 and that the price varied.
plaintiff had expected to use the straw for thatching roofs and the
chaff for feeding horses. All of it was lost. She was also
as a solatium damages for mental pain and suffering for the six
months deprivation of the much-needed income until she
could grow a
fresh crop. She stated that she had been very worried and anxious and
that her peace of mind had been impaired. She
asked for M.600.
of the price variation per bag I shall take the mean and allow M70
per bag. Thus four bales each of six bags will produce
a total of
M1680. Taking into account the loss of the straw and chaff this
amount will be rounded off to make M.1700 patrimonial
regard to the amount for solatium I shall award M.100.
judgment is entered in favour of the plaintiff in the total sum of
M.1800 damages and costs in the suit.
P. A. P.
Mofolo for plaintiff ex parte
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