A Lesotho aviation charter company, Bohlakoa Aviation, is suing the government for damages because mines in the country do not use its services to transport diamonds to South Africa by plane.
April 3, 2023
2 min read
Mohahlaula Airlines wants to fly Lesotho diamonds to SA
One of the airplanes belonging to Mohahlaula Airlines
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Court documents dated March 28, 2023 and seen by media, show that Bohlokoa Aviation, trading as Mohahlaula Airlines, is suing the Lesotho government in the High Court for damages of M10 million plus interest.
It claims that the government is breaching the country's mining law, which stipulates that local services should be used, if available, over similar outside services.
Mohahlaula Airlines is based at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport in Maseru.
Lesotho's Mines and Minerals Act provides that the holder of a mineral right shall, "with due regard to the need to ensure safety, technical and economic efficiency", use services available in Lesotho.
In 2017, the company identified an opportunity created by the law to transport diamonds from mines in Lesotho to South Africa and do aerial survey work for the mines. Investment capital was raised to invest in its services.
Mohahlaula claims it incurred large costs, including obtaining aircraft, pilots, and other staff, equipment, insurance, permits and licences, and operating capital.
In March 2020, the company made the diamond mines in Lesotho aware of its services but received no response.
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In January 2022, the company raised the issue with the Lesotho Department of Civil Aviation.
Mohahlaula claims the Lesotho Civil Aviation Authority keeps issuing foreign operators temporary airspace permits, enabling the Lesotho mines to avoid using locally available services.
The government has 30 days to respond to the summons issued by Mohahlaula.
Media reports show that in August last year, Mohahlaula Airlines wanted to eventually also offer low-cost scheduled commercial flights to and from Maseru. – News24