HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
MOTEMEKOANE (Widow) 1st Plaintiff
MOTEMEKOANE (Divorcee) 2nd Plaintiff
ATTORNEY-GENERAL 1st Defendant
COMMISSIONER OF POLICE 2nd Defendant
by the Hon. Mrs Justice A. M. Hlajoane on 3rd March, 2008.
arose from the acts of the police officers who, acting within the
scope of their employment and during the cause of their
damage to the Plaintiffs and their property on or about the 28th and
29th days of December, 1994.
has been subjected to so many postponements since 1996. Even the
copies of the summons filed of record are just too faint
or going through them demands some considerable amount of time. The
reason for this being, as I was told, that the
original papers were
destroyed by fire in 1998 when the old High Court building was
destroyed by fire.
Plaintiff has described herself as the wife of one Refiloe Petros
Motemekoane who was killed by the Police. She said the
husband died in police hands and in their custody. That the police
had detained the deceased within the scope and
during the cause of
their employment by the Lesotho Government. She further said, as a
result of the said death she lost her support
and that of her minor
children to their marriage estimated at M200,000.00 and Ml50,000.00
respectively. She has also claimed for
damage to their car, two
poodles, 12 chicken and medical expenses.
Plaintiff on the other hand as the elder sister of the deceased, who
is a divorcee and had returned to her maiden home and
the deceased, is claiming for loss of support estimated at M50,000.00
and M600.00 for medical expenses.
declaration, the 2nd Plaintiff has shown that on or about the 28th
December, 1994 she was at the home of the deceased watching
television programme with other inmates when the police started
attacking their home. They sustained injuries and had to attend
medical treatment and thus incurred costs.
Plaintiffs have shown that the Government of Lesotho has to be held
vicariously responsible for the actions of its police officers
employers of such police officers.
matter was placed before me on the 13th February, 2008 and was set
for three days. Both Counsel appeared before me and intimated
the issue of liability was not disputed but quantum. Counsel for the
Plaintiff even showed that the matter was once placed
brother Maqutu J (as he then was) and the Court clearly showed that
from his reading of the papers filed of record the
issue of liability
would just be an academic exercise as it seemed to be common cause.
He felt that parties had to go straight
to the question of quantum.
for the Defendant was also of the same view. He even showed that,
though this case had previously been handled by Mr Makhethe
Mr Putsoane, he was aware of a minute by Mr
to the Commissioner of Police proposing a settlement out of Court.
There was no response from the Commissioner.
matter was stood down to the next day. On the 14th February 2008,
Counsel approached the Court with what they thought could
settlement. Both Counsel had each consulted their clients. The
Plaintiffs were ready to settle for M400,000 for the whole
Ml0,000 for costs. Counsel for Defendants had consulted his clients
who would offer M300,000 for damages and M10,000.00
for costs. This
offer came from the Deputy Commissioner of Police who then said was
unable to make a decision for anything more
in the absence of the
the Court's feeling that if the Deputy Commissioner could make an
offer for whatever amount it meant he could make a decision
absence of the Commissioner. But because the Parties could not agree
on quantum they were agreed that they would state the
were common cause and then argue on quantum.
which were common cause were that:-
late Petros Motemekoane (commonly referred to as Peters) had a house
at Maseru, Sea Point.
Police on the 28th December, 1994 did during the course of their
duty damage the house belonging to the deceased at Sea Point.
house had furniture in it.
were also personal belongings in that house for men, women and
vehicle belonging to the deceased was also damaged in the process.
of the occupants incurred medical expenses as a result.
chicken and poodles were also killed in the process.
deceased, Petros Motemekoane was killed whilst he was in police
custody on the 29th December, 1994.
facts as stated, it was revealed that the deceased Petros Motemekoane
was not even in his house as the police started firing
at the house
in Sea Point on the 28th December, 1994. The police came to know
about this after they had already damaged the house.
died after he had surrendered himself to the police on the 29th
December, 1994. He went to the police offices accompanied
police have claimed that as they approached the deceased's house with
the aim of going to arrest him, they were met with a
of machine guns and a hail of bullets from the deceased, and they
returned fire. As they learned later that the deceased
was not in the
house, who were they then trying to arrest? Who could have been
firing at them if at all there had been firing?
be clear from the above that it could therefore not have been the
issue of someone resisting arrest. It was therefore the
argument that the police had only acted on the information they had
received, but have been negligent because they did
not verify as to
whether the deceased was in fact at home or not as they did not come
chasing after the deceased. It was only fortunate
that no one was
killed in those shootings.
back to the issue of the damaged house, the Defendants were saying
that, the amount claimed would be for building a new house
fact the house was not demolished.
already stated, the 2nd Plaintiff has also claimed for loss of
support and medical expenses. It was not disputed that she was
the inmates in deceased's house when the place was attacked by
police. So that she too must have sustained some injuries
and had to
seek medical attention.
Plaintiff claimed to be the deceased's sister who had returned to her
maiden home after her divorce and was being maintained
by the late
Petros. The Defendants have denied knowledge of those allegations in
their plea and have shown that in the absence
of any proof of such
facts they were not able to admit the same.
must have been proof of the relationship of 2nd Plaintiff to the
deceased, Petros. Also proof that she was once married and
divorced. We have also not been told as to how old the 2nd Plaintiff
is and why she had to be maintained by the deceased,
Petros. One can
be a divorcee but still be able to work and maintain herself. We have
not been told as to whether she had to be
so maintained due to old
age, ill health or any other disability.
foregoing reasons, judgment is given for the 1st Plaintiff in the
to the House - Rl00,000.00
of Support - R200,000.00
to Household Property - R 50,000.00
Belongings - R 20,000.00
to the Vehicle - R 5,000.00
The total amount awarded has come to M375,000.00 with costs.
2nd Plaintiff judgment is given in the amount of M600.00 for medical
expenses with costs.
not awarded any damages for the two poodles and the twelve chicken as
it had not been clear as to how they came to be affected.
Defendants are given a period of three months from the date of this
judgment within which to effect payment in this matter.
Plaintiffs: Mr Mosito
Defendants: Mr Letsie
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