By Teboho Serutla
Ousted minister of defence and national security, Lekhetho Mosito, is demanding M1.5million damages in a case in which he is suing agriculture and food security Minister Tefo Mapesela for defamation.
Mapesela is being sued along with People’s Choice FM presenter Relebohile Moyeye, following comments he allegedly made on the radio station about Mosito.
According to court papers, Mapesela made a defamatory remark about Mosito in a radio programme conducted by Moyeye on February 6.
It is alleged that there was a defamatory phone-in interview between Mapesela and the radio station, resulting in the birth of a defamatory and malicious broadcast of the remarks.
“The message disseminated by PC FM and communicated directly by Mapesela in a malicious and injurious tone was to the effect that Mosito actively engaged in a criminal activity while still serving as a soldier and stole soldiers’ guns from the armoury which were used to kill people at Maputsoe and he was subsequently fired from the military, got convicted and imprisoned.
“It also says he does not have the requisite capacity to lead the security forces because he himself is a rebel who had been discharged from the army on account of his errant and/or criminal behaviour.
“Apart from that, Mapesela continued to say Mosito is a disloyal politician who is not driven by principles and is not supportive of the Head of Government who recommended him for appointment in the Executive as the Minister of Defence and National Security. It continues saying Mosito is a potential threat to the country’s security and his appointment as the minister of Defence and National Security attracts and/or emboldens his potential threat to the country’s security.”
Mosito was appointed by the Prime minister into the Defence ministry before the allegations popped up and he only managed to be in the office for 10 days. He demands M1.5million from each of the accused (Mapesela and Moyeye) for damages caused by these alleged utterances. He instituted the civil proceedings before his removal from the ministerial.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister remained uncommunicative about the real reasons for the abrupt sacking of Mosito as defence and national security minister, a little over 10 days after his appointment.
Mosito was appointed minister on February 4 2021 in a cabinet reshuffle that saw a raft of changes in cabinet and the line-up of principal secretaries.
The Office of the Prime Minister announced in a statement released on Monday evening that Mosito’s removal takes effect on the same day.
Pressed to disclose the reasons for Mosito’s removal, the PM’s spokesperson Buda Moseme was adamant that the appointment and dismissal of ministers is the prerogative of the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister is under no obligation to give reasons for dismissing of ministers, the same way he never gives reasons for appointing them.”
Asked if the PM’s decision was related to the recent much-publicised war of words between Mosito and Mapesela (agriculture and food security minister), Moseme quipped: “I cannot comment on that”.