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Legal bills haunt Thakaso

Staff Reporter

MASERU — Mohau Thakaso’s legal fight to wrest control of People’s Choice FM is coming back to haunt him.

He has lost eight cases, five of them with costs, since 2005.

And he is now sinking in legal debt.

People he has unsuccessfully sued are now chasing after him for legal costs.

So are the many lawyers he has hired for his plethora of cases.

So far there are three writs of execution against him for legal costs arising from cases he lost.

Two more could be coming soon and his property could be attached.

A Sunday Express investigation has revealed that Thakaso could now be battling to pick up the bills for the cases he has lost.

Most of the cases whose legal bills are now overdue are those he lost against PC FM, the company in which he claims to own a 62.5 percent stake, and its outgoing managing director Motlatsi Majara.

The many lawyers he has hired over the years are now demanding their fees.

Some lawyers, sources said this week, are now refusing to take more of his cases until he clears the arrears for previous ones.

The Sunday Express this week sifted through his cases to uncover the lawsuits he has lost since 2005.

The count stands at eight and he is now supposed to pay costs for five of them.

Thakaso’s legal bills started accumulating in 2005 when he lost a civil case in which he was suing PC FM, Majara, director Thabo Mpaka and Nedbank.

In that case Thakaso was claiming the station owed him money.

Majara was cited in that case because he had denied the company owed Thakaso.

PC FM and Majara were represented by King’s Counsel Salemane Phafane while the late Itumeleng Sithathi was representing Thakaso.

Justice Thamsanqa Nomncongo dismissed the case and ordered Thakaso and his lawyer to pay the legal costs.

The judge was particularly incensed that Sithathi had deliberately misrepresented to the court that he had instructions from attorney Thulo Mahlakeng.

He said it had been revealed during the hearing that Mahlakeng had never instructed Sithathi.

“The matter regarding the use of Mr Mahlakeng’s name as an attorney for the applicant (Thakaso) and Mr Sithathi is hereby referred to the Law Society for appropriate action,” Justice Nomncongo said in his judgment.

“The applicant and his counsel Sithathi be and are hereby ordered to pay costs hereof on a scale as between attorney and client jointly and severally.”

For losing that case, Thakaso and Sithathi were ordered to pay M27 398.40 to Majara and PC FM’s lawyer.

Sithathi died before he could pay the costs, leaving Thakaso to pick up the tab.

Several writs of execution were issued against Thakaso but he refused to surrender the property that had been attached.

On one occasion when he was approached by the deputy sheriff to surrender a car that he was driving Thakaso said the car could only be impounded over his “dead body”, according to a return of service submitted by the deputy sheriff.

But in doing so he was only worsening his debt because PC FM and Majara’s lawyers made an application seeking to compel the police to help the deputy sheriff attach the property.

Thakaso also lost that case which was before Justice Ts’eliso Monapathi.

Judgment was issued on July 6 2009 and on  September 5 2009 the deputy sheriff eventually attached Thakaso’s Mitsubishi Colt truck which was sold at an auction for M25 000.

But that amount was not enough to cover the legal debt.

The Sunday Express understands the sheriff’s office currently has a writ of execution to recover the M7 305.40 that remained outstanding after his car was sold.

He also has to pay an 18 percent annual interest from the date that the outstanding amount became due.

In 2007 Thakaso returned to court suing PC FM for money that he said the company owed him for the costs of a trip he had made to Johannesburg.

He claimed he had made the trip on behalf of the company and should be reimbursed.

He also argued the company owed him money for equipment he had bought when the station started.

As the case was proceeding a lawyer, Koili Ndebele, came to court claiming he was representing PC FM and he had been instructed to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.

But when Justice Monapathi asked Ndebele which members of the PC FM board had appointed him it emerged that Ndebele had been appointed by Thakaso and Teboho Mothae, another director and shareholder in the station.

In other words, Thakaso had appointed a lawyer for the company that he was fighting in court.

PC FM challenged Ndebele’s appointment and won.

Thakaso is yet to pay the company’s legal costs for losing that case.

At the same time PC FM brought an application asking the court to dismiss claims that it owed Thakaso anything.

When judgment was handed down on May 10 2010, Thakaso was on the losing side again and he was ordered to pay M25 870 in legal costs.

A writ was issued on October 27 2010 in respect of those costs.

Officials at the deputy sheriff’s office say Thakaso’s property could soon be impounded.

But that loss did not deter Thakaso who in November 2010 dragged PC FM’s shareholders, managers, directors and lawyers to the Commercial Court.

This time he was challenging the legitimacy of some of the shareholders and directors.

Some of the managers, he said in the papers, should not be with the station because they had been suspended.

Phafane, he said, should not continue to hold himself out as the company’s lawyer.

All in all he had brought 25 people to court.

Justice David Lyons dismissed his case but gave him a chance to proceed by way of summonses.

He said he would make a ruling on the costs after the festive holiday.

If the judge grants legal costs to the 25 people Thakaso might have a huge legal bill to settle.

On November 22 2010, Thakaso started his private prosecution against PC FM managers and shareholders for perjury.

In the dock were the station’s managing director, Majara, station manager Kholu Qhobela and presenter Liteboho Nkuebe as well as Hubbard Monaheng, a shareholder.

So was Khauta Mpeqa, the marketing manager whose shareholding in the station Thakaso is disputing.

Magistrate Ts’eliso Bale dismissed that case on the basis that he had not submitted security of costs and that he was masquerading as representing the state when he was actually representing himself.

On Thursday, Thakaso came back before Bale with the same case but this time he had added four more people to his initial list.

He had added lawyers Phafane and Mpaka as well as Thabo Mosala and Falla Lisanyane.

He lost again.

Yet Thakaso says he won’t rest until he has won the battle for PC FM.

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