Lesotho weekly Public Eye is going back to court to challenge a
M1.5 million (R1.5m) damages claim against it, writes Mzimkhulu
Sithetho.


The case is scheduled for October 18, 2007.

In November 2005, the High Court passed a default judgment in favour of businessman Lebohang Thotanyane.  The paper is appealing the case on the grounds it was not given a chance to defend itself. 
The ruling followed a report linking Thotanyane, a co-director of Facility Management Company (FMC) to the alleged swindling of money from Lehakoe Recreation and Cultural Centre, part of the Central Bank of Lesotho whose management was outsourced to FMC.
 
He has argued that he had been defamed by the newspaper by citing his misappropriation of funds allocated by the Bank for management of the centre.

In addition, the FMC has also filed a defamation suit against the newspaper demanding huge sums in damages – bringing the total potential damages claim to over M2m.

Public Eye, known for its critical reporting, has recently been slapped with an advertising ban from all government departments and parastatals.

As a result, the weekly retrenched three stuff members and suspended staff salaries for some time.