MASERU — The Korean National Commission for UNESCO’s bid to recover its movable solar-powered internet school valued at M1 million failed this week after court messengers were denied access to the premises where the property is housed.
Tumelo Sethojane purchased the solar-powered internet school worth a million maloti for a mere M20 000 after the property was auctioned on the understanding that it belonged to Lesotho Work-camps Association (LWA).
LWA’s property was attached and sold at an auction by the Magistrate Court in a civil dispute with City Centre Maseru Travel.
Since the sale of the property, the Korean organisation has been in a legal battle to regain its property arguing that the property that was attached and sold at an auction does not belong to the LWA.
Sethojane allegedly refused to comply with a High Court order issued by acting Justice Molefi Makara last week which declared the attachment of the said solar-powered internet school of February 22 2013 as null and void and subsequently its sale on March 3.
Advocate Kaiser Selimo representing the Korean National Commission for UNESCO as the applicants in the matter said Sethojane has since denied court messengers entry into his premises to recover the said property.
Justice Makara had ordered the Korean National Commission for UNESCO’s donated property be returned to the Korean organisation as the property is immune to civil liability, attachment and sale by judicial processes.
The solar-powered internet school was placed at LWA premises under a bridge programme with a memorandum of understanding that said the property belonged to the Korean organisation.
In their plea to the High Court, the Koreans wanted Sethojane to be ordered and directed to refrain from using, letting, alienating and engaging in any acts that would destroy or reduce the value of the property.
The property in the court papers is described as a big steel container technically known as the solar-powered internet school.
The applicants were seeking the sheriff of the High Court and the applicants’ representatives to be authorised to enter Sethojane’s premises, inspect the steel container and its contents and file an inventory with the Registrar of the high Court.
Selimo, presenting his arguments to the court said as a result of the property belonging to the international organisation although placed at the premises of the association the Korean organisation and the property enjoyed privileges and immunities under the international organisations (privileges and immunities) Act No. 32 of 1969.
Selimo had added the regulations made pursuant to section 3 of the act which are the international organisations (privileges and immunities of specialised agencies) regulations of 1969 and the convention on the privileges and immunities of the specialised agencies 1947 made applicable in Lesotho by regulation 5.
Selimo had indicated that the Korean National Commission for UNESCO’s property mentioned above was attached and sold in execution by the S. Letsie and A.T. Mphahama cited as third and fourth respondents in the settlement of the judgment granted in favour of the City Centre Maseru Travel by the Magistrate Court against association which did not own the property.
Since the hearing about the sale of their property the Koreans have since been locked in a legal battle to recover it.
Sethojane’s defence argued by his lawyer, Advocate Mahlomola Manyokole was that the Subordinate Courts Order 1988 section 43 provides: “a sale in execution by the messenger shall not, in the case of movable property after delivery thereof or in the case of immovable property after registration of transfer, be liable to be impeached as against a purchaser in good faith and without notice of any defect.”
Selimo had countered that the subordinate courts order section 43 has no application and had asked the court to find all the purported processes in execution over the Korean organisation’s property null and void ab initio.
Initially the City Centre Maseru Travel was granted the rights to sell property in case CC:683/2013 and attached the property of LWA only to find that the property belonged to the Koreans’ organisation which had lend the property to the association.
When contacted for a comment yesterday, Manyokole said his client is still waiting for a written judgment to be availed to him by the court as Justice Makara had only issued a verbal judgment.
He dismissed allegations that the court messengers were denied access by Sethojane when trying to recover the big steel container.
“In fact, those people underestimated the property they were supposed to come to recover and their truck could not even do the designated task,” he said.
Manyokole said what is surprising is that the Korean organisation now has a court order even before a written judgment has been released.
He said his client is still waiting for a written judgment so as to know how to conduct himself regarding the matter.
“We are waiting for a written judgment so that we could see what exactly is being said and so that we could appeal this decision,” Manyokole said.