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Lawyer challenges deportation

By Caswell Tlali

MASERU— A case in which a whistleblower on China Garments Manufacturers (CGM)’s alleged tax evasion and externalisation scandal is challenging his deportation will be heard in the High Court on Tuesday.

Ranil Yapa was deported back to Sri Lanka two weeks ago despite a High Court interim order interdicting deportation until his case is heard.

The government pushed ahead with his deportation despite that he was facing charges of illegal diamond dealing and theft.

At the time of his deportation Yapa was disputing his dismissal from CGM.

He had also told CGM’s management that he was going to expose the company to the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA).

The LRA is investigating CGM for tax fraud and externalisation.

It is suspected the company owes nearly M300 million in tax.

The investigation is centred on allegations that the company has been cheating the revenue authority for the past 24 years by under-taxing its expatriate staff and depositing their salaries in foreign accounts.

Three weeks ago the revenue authority raided the company, confiscating computers and other documents.

Yapa’s rushed deportation raised suspicions that CGM could have pulled some strings to get him out of the country because he had threatened to expose the company.

His lawyer, Letuka Molati, has accused Deputy Prime Minister Lesao Lehohla, acting police commissioner Kizito Mhlakaza and immigration director Matšeliso Mathe of ignoring a court order against Yapa’s deportation.

He was due to file a contempt of court charge against the trio this
week but told the Sunday Express he has temporarily withheld that case to allow his client to challenge his deportation.

“We have not dumped our contempt of court case but we decided to allow the Tuesday case (against the deportation) to continue,” Molati said.

“We have good prospects of winning the Tuesday case and we deemed it fit to withhold the contempt case for a while because it might delay things.”

CGM’s chief executive, Madhav Dalvi, told a press conference on Wednesday that allegations his company had instigated Yapa’s deportation were false.

A defiant Dalvi sought to portray Yapa as a dishonest and disloyal employee who wanted to create problems for the company.

He said Yaya used to work for the company a long time ago but had desserted to go and work in Italy.

He said CGM rehired Yapa on humanitarian grounds after his return from Italy. CGM only agreed to rehire Yapa because his brother who worked for the company had begged on his behalf, Dalvi said.

He said Yapa had to be deported because his work and residence permits had been cancelled after he was sacked by CGM.

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