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Hairdressers fight over clients

Sello Morake


MASERU — All was well when it started.

In 1999, Linkeng Chaolane and ‘Makhothatso Rakharebe pulled their resources together to run a hair salon in Qacha’s Nek.

Chaolane, 48, already owned a salon while Rakharebe, 35, was a good hairdresser.

It was quite a strong partnership all would have wanted to last. 

But relations soured after just two weeks.

Rakharebe left the partnership and started her own salon just a few metres away.

The erstwhile partners became business rivals.

Then they turned real enemies.

Eleven years on, Chaolane has not forgiven Rakharebe for jumping ship.

She is now suing Rakharebe in the High Court for “stealing” her customers and employees when she left the partnership.

Chaolane wants her former business partner to pay her M26 000 in compensation.

When the case opened on Tuesday before Justice ‘Maseshope Hlajoane, the court heard how Rakharebe and Chaolane’s promising venture went terribly wrong just two weeks after its launch.

They had disagreed over how they would share the profits.

“I invited ‘Makhothatso into the business in 1999 since I knew she was a very good hairdresser,” Chaolane told the court.

“But the relationship only lasted two weeks because we argued over how we were going to share the money.

“She then decided to start her own business just metres away from mine and took away my clients in the process.”

She said thereafter Rakharebe started insulting her.

“Afterwards, she would insult me each time I passed near her salon,” Chaolane said.

“She would say ‘ke sekata se seputsoa se tampang nqa ele ngoe se sa tsoelepele’ (that I was an old rag which does not progress).”

Chaolane, who is being represented by Metsing Khoete, said in addition to the abuse her rival also worked to push her out of business by enticing her employees.

“‘Makhothatso would ask my employees how much I was paying them,” she said.

“As a result one of my workers left to join her after she had been promised a higher wage.”

In her submissions on Wednesday, Rakharebe told the court her former business partner was just being vindictive.

She said trouble started when Chaolane took money from the business without her consent.

“My troubles started in 1999 when I parted ways with Linkeng,” Rakharebe said.

“We had only been together for two weeks when she took M180 without my consent. Of that amount M120 was for rent. She said M60 was for her own personal use.

“I told her to take another M20 to make it M200 and then give me M200 to make it even.

“But Linkeng was not happy about this and we had a bitter argument over the issue.

“So I decided to leave and start my own salon.”

Rakharebe dismissed Chaolane’s allegations that she had taken her clients.

“I advertised my salon by printing a large poster with my contact details on it,” she said.

“I assumed that was the reason why I was getting all those calls and customers.

“I never took away any of her customers as being alleged.”

Rakharebe said it came as a “complete surprise” when police informed her of Chaolane’s complaints on May 18 2006.

“I told the police that I never insulted her and that I never ‘stole’ Linkeng’s clients,” she said.

“But two weeks later I was summoned to appear in the Ratšoleli Court on a charge of using abusive language.

“Linkeng was claiming M10 000 in damages.”

She said Chaolane later withdrew the case only to take it to the Qacha’s Nek Magistrates Court two weeks later.

“This time she wanted M20 000 compensation saying I had called her an old rag,” Rakharebe said.

“The case again did not proceed because the plaintiff said she was busy.

“After some weeks I received summons from the High Court saying I should compensate her with M26 000.”

Trial continues on April 29.

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