The dispute surrounding the issuance of Temporary Airservices Airline Permits (TASP) has escalated as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mohlahlaula Airlines, Phafane Nkotsi, has brought the matter before the High Court.
Nkotsi filed an application this week demanding that the Department of Civil Aviation in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport prioritise local airlines when granting TASPs.
The applicants in this case are Bohlokoa Aviation T/A and Mohlahlaula Airlines, while the respondents include the Director of Civil Aviation, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Minister, Commissioner of Mines, and Attorney General.
Nkotsiâ€™s application seeks various orders, including the furnishing of records of proceedings, correspondences, and minutes by the respondents of meetings held between themselves and the applicant, particularly, minutes of November 30, 2022
He also demands compliance with provisions of the Aviation Act when issuing Airservices permits and the declaration of invalidity for permits issued contrary to the Aviation Act.
Nkotsiâ€™s affidavit detailed the history of Mohlahlaula Airlines and its efforts to engage in business, particularly in the mining industry.
He highlighted the importance of providing aviation services to the mining sector, noting that cargo flights transport diamonds from Lesotho every week.
â€œI aver that every single week, there is a cargo flight that comes from the mines to transport diamonds from Lesotho to the world. I must however note that the mining industry was not as welcoming and forthcoming to our advances to engage in business,â€ he said.
In a surprising turn of events, on the same day that Nkotsi filed his application, the Director of Civil Aviation, Motsoaole Lesupi, was suspended from his official duties.
The suspension letter, signed by Principal Secretary TÅ¡epang Koele, cited a violation of the Public Services Act and disciplinary investigations into alleged misconduct.
The letter emphasised that the suspension aims to prevent any potential tampering with evidence or interference with the ongoing investigations.
Lesupi was directed to observe appropriate conduct during the suspension and is not allowed to access work premises unless required for investigation purposes.
â€œWhile on suspension, you are still expected to observe and maintain discipline and appropriate conduct befitting of a public officer. You are not allowed to come to work premises unless required by your employer to attend investigation meetings or hearings as and when necessary,â€ the suspension letter read.
â€œLastly, you are directed to handover all Government property at your disposal to the Principal Secretary upon receipt of this letter,â€ it added.