MASERU — An architectural company is suing the Catholic Church’s Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) for M400 000 for allegedly refusing to pay for consultation services it rendered the religious order for a construction project.
Paul Croce Associates Architects says it had entered an agreement with the Roma-based OMI to design and supervise construction of student hostels at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
The project was under Pius XII College, an institution which no longer offers academic courses but still runs some student hostels at NUL.
Pius XII College is run by the OMI and so are its properties at NUL.
NUL was initially Pius XII College before it was transformed in 1964 into the University of Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland.
In 1966 it became the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS).
The university was, in 1975, then transformed into the National University of Lesotho.
The transformation left Pius XII College with its own site within the NUL campus in Roma when the university expanded.
Pius XII College still offers accommodation for NUL students.
Paul Croce Associates architect Ntšiu Ntlatlapa last week told the High Court that his company was contracted by a priest who was in charge of Pius XII College in 1995 to perform architectural duties for the college.
Ntlatlapa said the association never paid for those services.
In 2004 the company lodged a case against the oblates saying the priests’ association should pay for the services that his company rendered to Pius XII College.
“In 1994 and 1995 we were the architects working in the National University of Lesotho,” Ntlatlapa said during his testimony on Wednesday.
“Reverend Thomas Manyeli called me to Pius XII College, in October 1995, where he gave me a brief to prepare the proposal for hostels for NUL student residence.
“Three weeks later we submitted the design concept to him at the college.
“A week later he approved the concept with a written letter.”
Ntlatlapa said it was that letter which appointed his company as the architects for the project to build the NUL student hostels.
He said after the appointment his company incurred some expenses because it started hiring consultants.
“After receiving the letter of appointment we started putting together a team of professionals (consultants) to carry out the job,” he said.
But the lawyer for the oblates, Tšabo Matooane, said the company had wrongly sued the oblates because there was no agreement between the company and the religious order.
During cross-examination, Matooane told Ntlatlapa that the agreement between his company and Pius XII College was not approved by the oblates.
He said the OMI should not be bound by an agreement it did not approve.
“We don’t care whether you agreed on anything with the college or not,” Matooane said.
“We don’t even challenge the work you did as a result of your agreement with the college.
“We are only saying you did not get the mandate from us (OMI) to carry out the project.”
Matooane said Ntlatlapa had failed to prove in court why his company was suing the OMI, not Pius XII College.
“Up to now you haven’t told this court why you are suing the oblates,” he said.
The case has been postponed to October for lawyers to make their final address to the court before judgment is passed.