Mahlakeng sues govt for unpaid car

SECHABA MATATIELE

Former Minister of Labour and Employment Advocate Thulo Mahlakeng has slapped the government with a M107 300 refund claim after the Ministry of Finance failed to pay monthly instalments for a motor-vehicle he purchased through a loan facility provided by Nedbank Lesotho.

According to his papers filed before the Commercial Court, Mahlakeng, who was a cabinet minister during the former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili administration between 2015 and 2017 bought a Mercedes Benz in December 2016.

He purchased the vehicle in terms of the Members of Parliament Salaries Regulation of 2015 contained in Legal Notice No 151 of 2015, which entitles among others ministers to purchase a motor-vehicle through a loan for both official and private businesses.

Mahlakeng has cited the Minister of Finance, the Principal Secretary for finance ministry, the Accountant-General and the Attorney-General as respondents in the application.

He claims that for four months in 2017, the respondents  failed to pay monthly instalments on his vehicle and as a results, arrears accrued within that period.

He has asked the court to direct the first three respondents to pay the sum of money stated in his application as a refund of the monies he later privately paid on the car at a rate of 18.25 percent per annum.

His court papers show that the Minister of Finance undertook by the letter of November 2016 and addressed to Nedbank that the monthly allowance or instalments would be effected once the bank had approved the loan facility.

The letter of the then Minister of Finance Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla indicated to the bank that cabinet ministers were some of the officials who qualified for car allowances with a monthly instalment to the tune of M16 500.

The vehicle, a Mercedes Benz E250 according to Khaketla’s letter was to be used for both personal and office purposes.

Nedbank Lesotho in turn wrote to the Accountant-General seeking confirmation that an amount of M26 800 would be paid at the end of each month.

The first such instalment was due and payable at the end of February 2017.

But for the months of February, March, April and May 2017, the first three respondents failed to pay, Mahlakeng’s papers further show.

At the end of June, the applicant started effecting monthly payments but the arrears for those four months were still outstanding. Again later, to obviate the inconvenience of being sued for the arrears, Mahlakeng himself decided to settle the arrears.

The matter is before Justice Lebohang Molete who postponed it to August 1 for mention and filing of further documents as the respondents have filed a notice of intention to oppose.

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