MASERU — A businesswoman who owns a bar in Leribe is suing the police for unlawful arrest, physical and verbal assault as well as well as loss of business and harassment.
‘Maboithatelo Makhasane, whose bar is at Peka, wants the police to pay her M80 000 in damages.
Police commissioner Malejaka Letooane is cited as the respondent in the lawsuit that started at the High Court on Thursday.
In her suit, Makhasane says between December 31 2008 and January 2009 police raided patrons at her bar and closed it on three occasions.
She alleges that on January 19, the police “unlawfully arrested” and “assaulted” her.
“My husband was angry with them because they had assaulted me,” Makhasane said.
“My hands and neck were painful due to being tightened by the handcuffs. My hands were swollen and I could not do anything as my hands were bruised and painful,” she told the court.
She said she had lost business because her patrons were now afraid that the police might raid the bar again. She rejected the defence’s argument that her bar had lost business because of the economic downturn and as a result people were spending less on alcohol.
“I did not lose money because of the economic problems. I lost money because police were disrupting my business with their raids.”
Makhasane claimed that since the raids her business had slumped by nearly 40 percent.
“I had been making M1 000 on ordinary days but now I’m making only around M600.”
“During festive seasons I used to make M5 000 on weekends from the miners but I only made M3 000 this past festive season,” she said.
She told the court that the raids started around New Year’s Eve last year when the police stormed the bar and told her that she was operating beyond the stipulated times.
The police, Makhasane claimed, also came back for another raid on New Year’s Day and also accused her of operating beyond the stipulated times.
On both occasions they immediately ordered that the bar be closed, Makhasane said.
Liquior licences for bars specify what time they should close. In most cases bars are not supposed to be open beyond 10 pm.
Bars which breach this regulation risk losing their licences or being fined.
She said on January 19, the police raided her bar again when she was not present. She however said the police traced her to her field and arrested her.
The respondent’s lawyer, Advocate Limpho Mokobocho, said Makhasane had been arrested because she was operating beyond the times stipulated by her licence.
Mokobocho said the recession and not the raids were to blame for her loss of business. Makhasane is claiming M20 000 for malicious arrest, M30 000 for verbal and physical assault and M10 000 for loss of business.
She also wants a compensation of M20 000 for contumelia — emotional pain and suffering.
Applicant’s lawyer is Advocate Tumisang Mosotho. The case was postponed to May 18.