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Businessman sues bank for M15 million

Nat Molomo

MASERU — A Maseru businessman is demanding M15 million in damages from a local bank after he was allegedlly wrongfully arrested while in its banking hall in Maseru two years ago.

Petlane Solomon Petlane is suing the First National Bank (FNB), the bank’s then branch manager Rets’elisitsoe Ts’osane as well as the commissioner of police and the attorney general.

Petlane, 41, told the High Court on Thursday that Ts’osane set the police on him on August 12, 2009 when he entered the bank’s premises to conduct banking business.

He alleged that Ts’osane did this because his girlfriend, who also worked at FNB, had rejected his advances.

In papers filed at the High Court, Petlane said Ts’osane laid false charges at Maseru Central Charge Office against him that “he was dangerous” and that he was “obstructing” customers and had caused “a halt to banking business”.

On Thursday Petlane told High Court judge Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase that two men, he later learnt were police officers, approached him while he was being served in the bank.

“One of them patted me on the right shoulder and when I turned he told me that they had come to arrest me,” Petlane said.

He added that the officers manhandled him and pulled him from the banking hall.

“One of them held me by the scruff of my neck as they pulled me outside,” Petlane said.

According to the businessman the incident happened in the presence of about 30 other customers.

He said although he later learnt that the two were police officers he did not understand why they wanted him out of the bank.

Petlane  said he was later taken to the ATM division where the police officers told him that the branch manager had called them informing them that there was “a dangerous person here who wanted to thwart banking transactions”.

He claims there were about 50 people in the ATM division when an altercation ensued between him and the police officers.

Petlane said the police officers later allowed him to leave saying they would call him if they needed to ask further questions.

He said when he returned into the banking hall people “were amazed and looked at him curiously”.

“I felt humiliated in public and harassed. My dignity was degraded,” Petlane told the court.

He claims he holds an important position in his community as a member of the Anglican Church in Quthing.

He also added that after the incident the bank instituted disciplinary action against his girlfriend who had always told him that Ts’osane was harassing her at work.

 Petlane said he was claiming M15 million because the respondents had not bothered to apologise to him.

Advocate Mpho Mokobocho from the Law Office is representing the commissioner of police and attorney-general while Advocate Philip Loubser is appearing for FNB.

The case continues.

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