Moafrika boss faces defamation charge
THE editor-in-chief of Moafrika FM radio station, Ratabane Ramainoane, is expected to appear before the Magistrate’s Court in Maseru tomorrow on defamation charges after his movie-style arrest at the High Court premises on Friday.
Police officers in plain clothes pounced on Mr Ramainoane as soon as he stepped out of the High Court where judge, Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane, had just ruled against Moafrika FM’s application seeking the re-opening of the radio station that was shut-down on Wednesday.
Justice Hlajoane ruled that the application was not urgent and should follow the normal modes of service.
At about 3:20 pm Mr Ramainoane was accosted at the main door of the court by the police officers and after a brief chat with them, he headed back in the direction of the court with the officers closely following before attempting to stop him.
In the ensuing argument which drew the attention of onlookers, Mr Ramainoane insisted on seeing his lawyer who had remained in the court but the police officers would have none of it and insisted that he accompany them to their office.
The police officers grabbed him by his hands and tugged at his clothes as he was about to enter the door of the court.
They pulled him back and he fell to the ground and his spectacles fell to the ground as they handcuffed him.
The police yelled at onlookers who proceeded to capture the drama on their smartphones.
The police subsequently drove off with Mr Ramainoane to the Police Headquarters in Maseru.
Police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, yesterday confirmed Mr Ramainoane’s arrest.
“Someone made a report to the police complaining about the defamatory statements by Mr Ramainoane,” Inspector Mopeli said.
“He was released into the custody of his lawyer on the same day and will appear before the court on Monday to face a charge a defamation.”
However, Inspector Mopeli said he would not elaborate on the nature of the charge Mr Ramainoane is facing saying: “Everything will be heard in court.”
Meanwhile, global human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has strongly condemned the arrest, saying it amounted to intimidation of the media.
In a press release issued on Friday, Amnesty International deputy director for Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda said: “The closure of Moafrika FM and the arrest of the station owner, Candi Ramainoane, is nothing more than a witch-hunt aimed at harassing and intimidating the country’s press.
“The defamation charge against him is spurious and cynical and is meant to send a chilling message to other media owners and journalists of the consequences they face for scrutinising the government.
“Candi Ramainoane must be released immediately and unconditionally and be allowed to do his job. Moafrika FM should also be re-opened immediately.”
The statement further alleges that Moafrika FM was targeted for reporting critically about Lesotho’s political affairs.
But Inspector Mopeli said Mr Ramainoane was arrested purely for violating the law.
“Every person, whether in media or not, has to face the law.
“Since there is someone complaining about him, the only proper forum to intervene is a court of law,” Inspector Mopeli said.