â€¦as lawyer and 14 employees arrested
The fight for the ownership of Afriski Resort took a nasty turn and reached a boiling as the director and legal representative of the resort, Advocate Thabo Lerotholi and 14 resort employees last Thursday appeared before the Butha Buthe Magistrate Court charged with property theft.
The 15 were arrested by the Butha Buthe policeâ€™s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in connection with an alleged theft of property belonging to the founding shareholder of the resort, Wessel Bosman.
All the 15 suspects were released on free bail on the same day.
One of the few ski resorts on the African continent, and also a key tourism attraction point for Lesotho, Afriski recently underwent a disruptive internal legal battle between its shareholders over the disputed sale of part of the facilityâ€™s shares.
The legal battle saw the resort temporarily closing down through a court interdict at one point, although it has since resumed working.
At the conclusion of the drawn-out court battle, Bosman who was the complainant lost the court challenge to nullify the sale of his shares in the resort to a company called Serene Gaze Trading.
Yesterday Lerotholi was issued with a warrant of arrest upon his arrival at the court premises where he was to represent the 14 employees who were charged with property theft.
He told Newsday that his arrest as an officer of the court was tantamount to an attack on the judiciary, and also an attempt to destabilising the resort.
â€œI was shocked upon my arrival at the court when I was informed that I am being charged as a suspect in the theft of Mr Wessel Bosmanâ€™s property,â€ Lerotholi said.
â€œTo get a warrant of arrest as an officer of the court like I am a common criminal is just absurd because I am a phone call away if the police need anything from me.â€
Lerotholi, who earlier last month penned an explosive letter to the registrar of the High Court whistleblowing on possible corruption involving the Butha Buthe police CID, has also accused the police of unduly interfering in a civil claim they have no business in.
â€œI believe they are abusing their powers by being involved in what is supposed to be a civil matter between Afriski and Mr Bosman.â€
Dragging the name of the resort into more legal issues will negatively affect the countryâ€™s economy, Lerotholi warned.
â€œWe are concerned as directors and investors of Afriski that destabilising the operation of the resort, which is one of the leading establishments in the countryâ€™s tourism landscape, will only serve to hurt the country economically.â€
In his scathing letter copied to the office of the Chief Justice, and Commissioner of Police among others, Lerotholi said that the head of the Butha Buthe police CID, Daemane, alleged to him that Afriski management had bribed the judge that was overseeing the Bosmanâ€™s case the resort.
â€œI proceeded to ask Mr. Daemane to make an affidavit to that effect, as this allegation was not one just to be ignored but had a damaging impact on the reputation of the judge concerned including the justice system of Lesotho in general,â€.
â€œOverzealousness in matters that involve Mr. Bosman is not something to be taken lightly and has the potential to ruin our courts and justice system. In light of the above, we call upon your office together with all relevant stakeholders that spearhead and administer the justice system to investigate this matter as we feel that their conduct will lead to some serious consequences such as an erosion of public confidence in the justice system,â€ Lerotholi wrote in the letter.