The lengthy legal spat between the railway company and the Ministry of Transport has finally been put to bed after High Court Justice TÅ¡eliso Monaphathi passed a judgement this week.
The ruling ordered that the Ministry of Transport to restores full possession of the Maseru Container Terminal (MASCON) to one Katleho Logistics.
Feuds that emerged from the two entities came after the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, before the two ministries were divided, took the company in question to the courts of law on the grounds that they have fraudulently been offered a tender by the then Principal Secretary Mothabathe Hlalele three years back.
Things got extreme when the Ministry of Transport wrote to the company in an epistle authored by their Principal Secretary Maile Masoebe that they (Katleho Logistics) should evacuate the premises this winter.
Katleho Logistics, according to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offence (DCEO), has collected a sum of M8 million which has not been duly accounted for and not been declared to the government as revenue since 2018. The reasons triggered the anti-corruption unit to freeze the railway companyâ€™s bank accounts pending investigations. The said accounts are still iced up as per the sources close to the case at the DCEO.
In June this year, the applicantâ€™s legal representative, Monaheng Rasekoai filed a certificate of urgency to the High Court pertaining the apparent acts of violation sub judice principles by the agents of the Ministry of Transport which he said were acting in collusion with the agents of the institution of DCEO.
â€œApplicant and ministry of transport are embroiled in litigation concerning the contract of Maseru Container Terminal (MASCON) in the main application. The issues on the radar in the main application center around the lawfulness and or otherwise of continued occupation and business activities of the applicant at MASCON Terminal,â€ Rasekoai said.
â€œWhilst the issues remain pending before the honourable court, the Ministry per the second respondent endeavoured to terminate and or cancel the continued occupation and business activities of the applicant through Annexure Termination.2 it is applicantâ€™s contention that the correspondence from second respondent has an effect of violating the sub judice rule and amounts to contempt of court and undermining the authority of the rule of law,â€ he continued.
â€œThe applicant has also sought a declaratory order to the effect that the Letter of Work Offer dated January 9, 2018 and signed or endorsed by the Procurement Manager of Ministry Public Works and Transport be declared valid and enforceable.
â€œHe continued that there was an attempt to terminate and or evacuate the applicant from Maseru Container Terminal, although the fact was that the issue which triggered the process was under consideration by the court of law,â€ he said.
In their prayers, the applicant sought the court to release an order directing the ministry as well as the Principal Secretary of the same ministry to restore possession and control over administration of Maseru Container Terminal to Katleho Logistics Omnia ante pending finalisation of both this application and or the main application which was ruled in their favour this week.
â€œAn order prohibiting and or interdicting the first and second respondents from engaging in the activities of Maseru Container Terminal pursuant to the three letters two which were dated June 21 and June 17, 2021 and penned by the respondent pending finalisation of both this application and or the main application.
â€œThat it be declared that the termination of engagement of the application at Maseru Container Terminal very issue of lawfulness or otherwise of its contractual arrangement is on the radar in the main application under prayer 8 is a violation of the sub judice principle and hence usurpation of the powers of the court.
The letter that was addressed to Katleho Logistics from the Ministry of Transport directed the logistics company to evacuate from the containers terminals and governmentâ€™s houses.
â€œWe are in receipt of the letter from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) advising us to revisit the relationship if any between the Ministry and Katleho Logistics, to bring to a halt and engage other government offices for procurement of similar services if there are no relationship.
â€œWe humbly request your good company to vacate Maseru Container Terminate premises and government houses which your employees occupied on the ground that we did not have any relationship with your good self. Furthermore, we do not have any information in our possession which shows that Katleho Logistics have right to occupy the government houses or to operate Maseru Container Terminals.
â€œFrom the date of receipt of this letter, the Ministry is giving your good self 30 days to vacate the said premises and surrender the keys to the office of the Principal Secretary,â€ Masoebe letters read.
The other letter directs that, â€œFollowing the letter of notice to evacuate the Maseru Container Terminal dated June 17, 2021, you are further instructed to stop demanding cash payments from clients who use the facility. All transection and invoices must be paid by clients using a designated bank account and only present their proofs of payment to your good service.
The former PS to the said ministry, Hlalele expressed his delight that his name has been cleared as he was labelled as a corrupt PS, said to have offered the tender in a corrupt manner and that he sought the railway company to perform money laundering activities on his behalf.
â€œThe truth always prevails and will sure come to light, same way as the lie,â€ he said.
â€œI am very happy because the truth has been revealed despite the fact that people were suspicious that some of the tenders including this one of Mascon were tendered in a corrupt manner.
â€œSome peopleâ€™s mission in life has always been to see me fall and they will never rest, they can do everything in their power but they will always fail because I have nothing to hide. I always follow the law, everything that I did during my tenure in office; I followed the law during tendering,â€ he said.
He continued that the matter was broadcasted over certain local radio stations and made programmes on the matterâ€¦ â€œCiting that I am corrupt, where are they now?â€ he asked.
â€œSome institutions allow themselves to be used by politicians and that degrade their integrity and competence. Some media houses got into ABC politics and allowed themselves to be used by some ABC politicians.
â€œIt has always been lies that Mascon was not tendered following procedures including other tenders that I have offered,â€ he said.