CIV/APN/216/88 IN THE HIGH COURT OF
In the matter between:-
PUSELETSO 'MATSELANE RAMALEBO
LESOTHO BANK 1st Respondent
PUSELETSO RAMALEBO (MABEKE
LECHOKO) 2nd RespondentT.E.B.A. (MAFETENG) (THE EMPLOYMENT
BUREAU OF AFRICAN LIMITED) 3rd Respondent
Delivered by the Honourable Mr. Justice J.L. Kheola on
the 4th day of September, 1989
On the 14th July, 1988 the applicant applied for and
obtained interdict against the respondents couched in the following
"1. That a Rule Nisi be issued calling upon the
Respondents to show cause, if any, on a date to be fixed by the above
(a) The 1st Respondent shall not be restrained
forthwith from paying to the 2nd Respondent or any of 2nd Respondents
payees an amount
of M24,812.64 in the 2nd Respondents account with
the Lesotho Bank Branch/agency at Mafeteng and keep the said amount
in a suspense
account until the finalisation of this application.
The 3rd Respondent shall not be directedto pay the
amount of M24,812.64 to theapplicant as the Lawful wife and
beneficiaryof the late Motlatsi Ramalebo.
The 2nd Respondent shall not pay the costsof this
application; and the 1st and 3rdRespondents ONLY in the
event of opposition.
The applicant may not be granted such furtherand/or
alternative relief that the HonourableCourt may deem fit;
2. That Prayer 1 (a) above should operate as an
interim relief with immediate effect."
On the return day it was found that there is a dispute
of fact as to which Puseletso the deceased was referring to when he
a contract of employment with the third respondent. In the
contract form the deceased appointed Puseletso as his death
This Court must decide which Puseletso he had in mind
because both the applicant and the second respondent claim that they
In her founding affidavit and in her oral evidence
before this Court the applicant deposed that she was lawfully married
with Sesotho custom to Motlatsi Ramalebo (hereinafter
called the deceased) in Mafeteng Urban Area in February, 1973. The
died on the 2nd March, 1988 at Deelgral Mines, Carletonville
where he was employed as a mineworker. At the time of his death their
marriage still subsisted. In 1979 the applicant came to Maseru and
lived have because she is employed at Bright Garments Factory
Maseru Industrial Area. Their two children are still living with her
mother-in-law at Ha Kutoanyane in the Mafeteng urban
The applicant deposed that the deceased used to visit
her here in Maseru during weekends and leave. They sometimes went to
at Ha Kutoanyane and spent a few days there.
It is common cause that in August, 1987 the deceased
cohabited with the 2nd respondent at the marital home of the 2nd
the deceased was on leave. When he returned to work
he left her there. The 2nd respondent has deposed that the deceased
her and married her according to Sesotho customary law.
I do not propose to deal with the question of marriage
in any detail because it is not relevant except to the extent it
connection existed between the deceased and the applicant
as well as the 2nd respondent.
The evidence before court proves that the deceased and
the 2nd respondent cohabited but that there was no formal marriage.
to formalise their relationship as soon as possible but
he died before he could do so.
The real issues before this Court are:
Is the name Puseletso shared by the applicant and the
which Puseletso did the deceased appoint as his
deathbeneficiary on the 12th August, 1987 when he signed
a contract with the 3rd respondent?
The applicant called as witnesses her mother and her
maternal grandfather who testified that when the applicant was born
named Puseletso. When she got married to the deceased
she was given the name of 'Matselane. I have accepted their evidence
coma to the conclusion that applicant's maiden name is
The 2nd respondent called as a witness' her mother who
testified that the 2nd respondent's maiden names are Puseletso and
She handed in a health booklet which shows that in July,
1986 when she went to the Government Dispensary at Mafeteng she
by the name of Puseletso Lecheko (See Exhibit C). She also
handed into Court an application form for a passport and a copy of
first page of her passport (Exhibit B) which shows her names as
Puseletso 'Malefu Ramalebo. Exhibit B does not carry her case any
further because the affidavit about her date of birth was sworn to by
her mother who has already given evidence before this Court.
convinced that the 2nd respondent's names were Puseletso and 'Mabeke.
To answer the question (b) posed above the applicant
called as a witness one Kikine Kikine who is the assistant
the 3rd respondent at Mafeteng. His evidence
related to the manner in which a contract form (Annexure "C"
to the founding
affidavit) is filled by the recruiting clerk and then
brought to the senior or assistant representative for checking. In
case Annexure "C" was filled by one Sam Mosala.
The particulars of the employee are supplied by the employee himself.
the employee has two wives this must be recorded under the
personal particulars of the employee. The particulars which appear in
the contract form must tally with the particulars in the employment
record card (Exhibit "A").
Sam Mosala testified that on the 12th August, 1987 he
filled Exhibit "C". The information came from the deceased.
told him that his first wife, 'Matselane was dead and
that his present wife was Puseletso and appointed her as his death
Sam said that according to their procedures the name of
the deceased wife must appear in the contract form and it must be
to her name that she is deceased. The name of the present
wife must follow immediately after that of the deceased wife. He had
to do with the transfer of the information in Exhibit "C"
to Exhibit "A". The word "deceased" appearing
infront of 'Matselane was written on the day the contract form was
The second respondent handed into Court two other
contract forms which were signed by the deceased on two previous
he went to the mines. The first one is dated the 24th
April, 1985. In that contract form the deceased said the name of his
was 'Matselane. He appointed his mother, 'Matsotang as his death
The second contract form is dated the 17th June, 1986.
In it he said the name of his wife was 'Matselane and appointed her
In the contract form now in question he is alleged to
have said 'Matselane was deceased and that his present wife was
he appointed as his death beneficiary.
I have no doubt that Sam Mosala was telling the truth
that the information of the personal particulars in Annexure "C"
He gave his evidence in a very straightforward
: manner and he impressed me as a truthful witness. He
said the word "deceased" in Annexure "C" was
him. I have no reason to doubt him on this point.
Mr. Matsau, applicant's attorney, submitted that
Sam Mosaic testified that he did not know who made the additions and
erasures on the employment
record card. However, there is a great
similarity between the word "deceased" in Exhibit "A"
and on Annexure
"C". If Mr. Matsau wanted to show
the similarity of the handwriting I think the applicant ought to have
called a handwriting expert.
He submitted further that Sam Mosala was merely trying
to explain the contents of a document that was seemingly filled up by
Sam Mosala even said that deceased did not sign or thumb sign
the form. However the form bore the thumbprint of the recruit. Ho
by saying that it is therefore doubtful whether Sam Mosala
wrote the word "deceased" on the employment contract form.
do not agree with this submission because Sam Mosala testified that
the signing of the form is done before the attesting officer
Labour Office:-. It is true that when the form left his officer the
thumbprint of the recruit was not yet affixed to it.
The employment contract form has four carbon copies when
it Is signed. The original copy goes to Labour Office; one copy is
to the miner; One copy is sent to Teba Liason Office outside
Lesotho; one copy is sent to the mine; one copy is sent to Manpower
Data Centre and the last copy is kept by local Teba office. If the
wanted to prove that the word "deceased" was
not written by Sam Mosala at the time the form was filled up, she
have obtained a copy from any of the offices which have
copies. It would be impossible for any one person to have gone to all
offices and changed the forms. The form before Court is the
original copy which obviously comes from the Labour Office.
Mr. Mda, counsel for the 2nd respondent,
submitted that it is most unlikely that the deceased could have
decided to refer to the applicant
as Puseletso in the employment
contract form, a name he was not used to using in his lifetime. He
submitted that the documents were
exhibited in Court showing that the
deceased used to refer to the applicant as "'Matselane" and
The applicant admitted that she was not
used to calling herself Puseletso and that the deceased used to refer
to her as 'Matselane
and not Puseletso. The names appearing in her
passport which she obtained in 1975 are 'Matselane Mary Ramalebo.
Puseletso does not
appear in her passport,,
It seems to me that although the applicant has
name that her maiden name is Puseletso she has failed to
prove on a balance
of probabilities that the deceased was appointing her as
his death beneficiary on the 12th August, 1987 when he signed
because it is common cause that he was not
used to calling her Puseletso On the previous occasion, i.e. on the
17th June, 1986 when
he signed a similar contract form, he referred
to the applicant by the name of 'Matselane as his death beneficiary.
The second reason why I am of the opinion that the
deceased was not referring to the applicant in Annexure "C"
is that he
lied to the recruiting clerk, Sam Mosala, that the
applicant was dead. He could not have nominated a person he alleged
to be dead
as his death beneficiary. It is very clear he deceived Sam
Mosala that the applicant was dead with the sole purpose of making it
easy for him to appoint the 2nd respondent as his death beneficiary.
It will be noticed that on the 24th April, 1985 when the
deceased signed an employment contract form, he appointed his mother,
as his death beneficiary. He did not appoint the applicant
despite the fact that at that time their marriage was already in
This is proof of the fact that the deceased was of the
opinion that he was under no obligation to nominate his wife as his
beneficiary whenever he entered into a contract with the 3rd
Much was made of the fact that at the time of his death
there was no valid marriage between deceased and the 2nd respondent.
already said that marriage is irrelevant as far as the
nomination of a death beneficiary is concerned. An employer is
nominate any person he likes (see 'Malimakatso Ramahata v.
Thabiso Ramahata C of A. (CIV) No.8 of 1986). In the
present case the 2nd respondent has proved a relationship between
herself and the deceased. They
lived together as man and wife before
he went to the mines for the last time where he died.
I come to the conclusion that there is overwhelming
evidence that the deceased appointed the 2nd respondent as his death
In the result the application is dismissed with costs.
J.L. KHEOLA JUDGE
4th September, 1989.
For the Applicant - Mr. Matsau. For 2nd Respondent
- Mr. Z. Mda.
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