The Environmental Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from 10 African countries on topics relating to environmental law, both substantive and procedural. The collection focuses on cases where an environmental interest interacts with governmental or private interests.
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This matter dealt with an appeal for a decision taken by the Magistrate’s Court to set aside the Local Court’s decision to absolve from the matter about the ownership of a certain piece of arable land.
It was the appellant’s case that while he was out of the country the chieftainship had deprived him of the land and reallocated it to the respondent who since used it. The respondent argued that the chief had rightly allocated the land to him and that the appellant had never been an occupant of said land. The appellant contended that a former directive issued by the court to make a determination of the ownership of the land when a dispute about the ownership arose before, had not been fulfilled and therefore the land would belong to him by default, as he had inherited it.
The High Court found that the issue was never resolved because the chieftainess could not confront the appellant with either of the two tenants whom he had given permission to stay on the land or the witness to the inheritance. Therefore, the appropriateness of the reallocation would have to be determined by senior chiefs before it could be brought to a competent court of law which was the Central Court and not the Local Court. The courts of law had, therefore, no jurisdiction on the matter before it had first been exhausted by the chieftainship in accordance with the Land Act of 1973 and the appeal was thus dismissed.
The court had to review an earlier decision by the same court. The accused was charged with contravening the Precious Stones Order of 1970 for wrongful and unlawful dealing in rough and uncut diamonds as a buyer or seller and for possession of uncut diamonds without a licence. The accused had pleaded guilty to all charges and convicted.
The court at hand had to decide on whether the first count of wrongful and unlawful dealing was appropriate in the circumstances and whether the charge and conviction should be amended.
The prosecutor relied on the testimony of the member in charge of the digging area who stated that when he searched the accused, he found three rough and uncut diamonds in her possession and upon requesting a valid dealing license, she failed to do so. There was no indication that the accused was going to sell those diamonds.
The court held that at the time the accused was apprehended she was not dealing in diamonds, but she was merely in possession of them. For there to be a crime there must be an act or on omission, a mere subjective contemplation of future criminal conduct which does not find outward expression indeed or omission is not criminally punishable.
The court held that the correct charge ought to have been one of possession and nothing more and ordered that the charge be amended accordingly. It however maintained that the previous sentence was adequate.
The appeal at hand flows from an initial application by the respondent for an interdict restraining the second appellant, from directing storm water on to the property of the respondent who cited that the construction of a water drainage system by the second appellant would threaten his properties as they stood lower than the water drainage scheme. He alluded that he foresaw damage to his buildings if the storm water were to come over his properties. A temporary interdict had been granted.
The court in this appeal were tasked with deciding whether the previous court had the jurisdiction to hear the matter and that the interdict be set aside as the second appellant was discharging their statutory obligation as per the Roads Act.
The court found that the Magistrate’s Court’s jurisdiction was confined to claims where the value of the subject matter in dispute did not exceed R2000.00. The court held that in order to give life to the interdict, the second appellant would have to design or construct a new drainage system which would in the courts opinion exceed R2000.00 and therefore the magistrate’s court had no jurisdiction.
Further, the respondent’s averment that a drainage system was necessary for safely leading storm water to its nearest natural drainage point was not opposed by the applicant who merely spoke of his property. The court held that such works were a necessity and the respondents ought to have been allowed to work.
The order was set aside.
This appeal arose from a rule nisi application that required the appellant to justify why an interdict should not be issued against him for the unlawful use of the respondent’s property.
The respondent instituted interdict proceedings when the appellant continued to use the disputed property after a default judgment that reinstated a previous judgment in his favor.
The court noted that interdict applications require proof of a clear right, an injury and the absence of any other satisfactory remedy.
The appellant submitted that the respondent had alternative remedies in contempt proceedings and a writ of execution. The court noted that the real issue was whether the alternative remedies would afford adequate protection from the continuing mischief. The court held that contempt proceedings are entirely unsatisfactory, where the injury has already started and is continuing. It was also held that a writ of execution was unsatisfactory for immovable property such as land.
The appellant claimed that service by postal service did not constitute proper service of summons as per rule 44 of Central and Local Courts (Practice and Procedure) Rules; and that this affected the validity of the default judgment. However, the court noted that the service was properly effected. It was also held that the validity of a default judgment was not affected by service of summons so, it was valid unless set aside lawfully.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed with costs.
The plaintiff in this case was permitted by the Chief of Matebeng to graze 187 goats and 84 sheep at Pekamollo near Mount Tsolo. The defendants took legal custody of about 700 of the plaintiff's animals and some of the plaintiff’s animals died in their custody.
The plaintiff instituted a claim for damages caused by the defendants’ trespass and negligence. He submitted that the death of his animals was caused by the defendants’ failure to exercise reasonable care to safe keep the animals.
The plaintiff proceeded with the case against the second, third, fourth and seventh defendants who did not file their notice to defend the claim. The court was satisfied that the plaintiff had made a conclusive case on the claim for negligence since the defendants decided not to give any defence.
The court held that the plaintiff was not entitled to damages for trespass since the first defendant was the Chief of Tsolo and had the power to decide which area under his jurisdiction was a reserved pasture. It was also held that the other damages were reasonable.
Accordingly, the second, third, fourth and seventh defendants were found to be severally and jointly liable. The court ordered the payment of M18,090.00 for the loss of the animals that died; M2,000.00 for the loss of wool and mohair; and an interest at the rate of 11% per annum from date of the judgment and costs of the suit.
The applicant approached the court by motion proceedings claiming that the suspension of the digging licence at Kao Diamond Mininq by the respondents be declared null and void. The applicant also prayed for damages and costs of the suit.
The respondents raised an objection on a point of law and submitted that the applicant was abusing court process by using motion proceedings to institute a case where there was a dispute of facts.
The court applied the rule that motion proceedings are preferred where the issues are clear. Further, the court held that matters brought by motion proceedings on disputed facts should be dismissed with costs. The court found that the applicant’s claim was based on issues of fact and law thus the difficulty in choosing how to institute the claim.
The court noted that it was required to examine the alleged dispute of fact and see whether in truth there was a real issue of fact which cannot be determined without oral evidence. Additionally, the court had the discretion to decide disputed claims by motion proceedings in appropriate cases.
It was held that the claim on license suspension by motion proceedings was correctly instituted and the damages claim was dismissed. The court applied its discretion as per rule 8 sub-rule (14) of the High Court Rules and ordered the matter to trial for the resolution of the license suspension. It was also ordered that the affidavits be considered as pleadings and the costs of the application be costs in the trial.
This was a counter-application by the fifth respondent (now applicant) against first and sixth respondents (respondents), for an order declaring a mining lease between the Basotho Nation and another company void. The applicants also prayed for costs in the event that the application was opposed. The applicant claimed that there was non-compliance with the procedures prescribed by sections 6 and 7 of the Mining Rights Act of 1967, as amended, when granting the lease.
The court determined whether Order No. 1 of 1970 which was enacted after the coup d'etat of 1970 abolished the office of the King and his executive power of allocating land or interest in land as contended by applicants.
The court noted that the applicant quoted Makenete v Lekhanya and others C of A (CIV) 17/1990 in support of the position that the order abolished the office of the king. However, it was noted that this position was only referred to in the obiter, (not the main holding) which failed to consider the effect of the Regent (Assumption of Office) Notice of 1970.
The court then interpreted the definition of regent to be “one who is invested with royal authority by”. Consequently, it was found that the notice appointed Queen Mamohato Seeiso to be regent for the duration of the King’s absence from Lesotho. It was further held that the king’s office had not been abolished since the queen was appointed to be his regent for the duration of his absence.
Accordingly, the application was dismissed.
The fifth respondent was created by statute for the purpose of implementing a project design to dam water. The dam was built and flooded the area that the appellant had obtained a mining lease for, making mining impossible. The government then unilaterally cancelled the appellants’ lease. The appellants filed an application to set aside this cancellation. Their application was granted.
The fifth respondent filed a counter-application to set aside as null and void the mining lease on the grounds that the mining lease was a nullity because it had allegedly been concluded without a recommendation by the Mining Board and without prior consultation with and approval of the Principal Chiefs within whose areas of jurisdiction the mining lease area fell. The fifth respondent further submitted that such recommendation and prior consultation and approval were peremptorily enjoined by s 6 of the Mining Rights Act No. 43 of 1967, so that non-compliance with both, or with either, of these requirements invalidated the granting of the mining lease by the government to the applicants and rendered it a nullity.
The court considered whether the mining lease complied with requirements of the Mining Rights Act. It found on the facts that the fifth respondent had successfully discharged the onus of proving that neither of the abovementioned requirements had been complied with before the lease was concluded. Accordingly, the lease was set aside. Costs were awarded in favour of the respondent herein.
In this case, chieftainship rights over a particular area were contested. The applicant sought an order calling upon the first respondent to show cause why he should not be restrained from holding himself out as chief of the area known as Ha Mochekoane. The applicant argued that he was a gazetted chief, but the respondent denied this and argued that he had been confirmed chief following the death of his father and that it was not necessary to be gazetted as chief. He further argued that the onus of proof was on the applicant to show that the disputed area was under his jurisdiction. The applicant’s failure to clearly describe his boundaries in the proceedings, the respondent argued, was fatal.
The court considered whether respondent held the office of chief and whether he was legally authorized to exercise the powers and perform the duties of a chief. After reviewing all the evidence, the court found no indication that the contested area was that of the respondent. The court also found that the respondent did not exercise any chiefly functions and lacked locus standi. Finally, the court held that the Chieftainship Act No. 22 of 1968 stated that one could not hold the office of chief without having been gazetted.
Regarding the question of boundaries, the court reviewed historical evidence and held that it was impossible for the respondent to be chief of that area. Accordingly, the application was allowed with costs.
The appellants in this case appealed against the decision of the High Court to uphold a counter-application by the respondents. The High Court upheld the respondent’s counter application on the basis that certain peremptory conditions had not been fulfilled and by its judgment set aside the appellants’ mining lease and awarded costs in favour of the respondent.
The applicants argued that the requirements that they failed to fulfill were not peremptory and that these requirements were only peremptory prior to the 1970 and 1986 coups. They contended further that the lease agreement having been concluded thereafter, it should not have been declared null and void. The argued further that the court below erred in awarding costs on the attorney and own client scale.
The Court of Appeal held that, while the coups suspended the 1966 Constitution, they did not set at nought all other legislative provisions. It held that the provisions of the Mining Rights Act, relating to the conclusion of mining leases, were still in place. The court further held that the conditions that the appellants failed to fulfill were grounded in long tradition and custom.
Consequently, the appeal was dismissed save on the issue of costs. The court held that the High Court was justified in making a special order as to costs on the issue of conspiracy but that the punitive costs were more appropriate in the circumstances and accordingly adjusted the costs order against the appellants whose conduct was deemed vexatious.
The matter deal with a land dispute. After the first defendant declared the plot of land in question a “selected development area” and leased it to the second defendant, the second defendant fenced it off. Prior to this, the plaintiffs had been the lawful occupiers and users of that plot of land which they utilised for agricultural purposes.
Initially, the plaintiffs sought a court order declaring as void the first respondent’s decision to define the plot of land a “selected development area” and an eviction order ejecting the second defendant or, alternatively, a compensation order ordering the defendants to compensate the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs conceded however, that the second defendant did come into occupation of the land legally. Eventually, the parties agreed that the court should decide only whether the plaintiffs were entitled to compensation.
Relying on s45(2) of the Land Act No 17 of 1979, the court held that two conditions must be satisfied for the loser of the right to use and occupy particular piece of land to be entitled to compensation. First, the selected development area that has been declared must consist wholly or partly of agricultural land within a selected agricultural area. Second, the land must be within a "selected agricultural area".
The plaintiffs, however, did neither allege nor prove that the land was in a selected agricultural area. Consequently, the plaintiffs claim for compensation failed and was dismissed with costs.
In this case, the applicants sought an interdict against an administrative decision not to renew short term mining leases. The applicants held mining licenses for several years which were renewable every six months. The Minister of Natural Resources, the first respondent sent the Acting Commissioner of Mines and two other officials to inform the applicants that their licenses would expire and not be renewed at the expiration of the six month duration. However, a two months extension was granted to enable final sifting and cessation of operations. Nevertheless, the applicants argued that the notice was too short and that they were legitimately expecting the leases to be renewed again.
The High court noted that the issue at hand was not one of cancellation or revocation, but one of non-renewal. Therefore, the issue that the court examined was whether the administrative decision not to renew the licenses was legal.
The court observed although that the applicants had a legitimate expectation to be heard before the decision not to renew their licences was made, they had been given time and opportunity to air their concerns. The court found that prior to the cancellation, the respondents were informed of the non-renewal on two occasions but made no attempt to persuade the respondents that the intended suspension was inappropriate or prejudicial. The court also held that there was insufficient evidence to show that the respondents had acting in bad faith and dismissed the application.
The court considered an appeal, based on a judgment from the court below, the issue of importance being political patronage by the Disaster Management Authority (DMA). This issue stemmed from a decision made by the Interim Political Authority (IPA), which sought to eliminate political patronage on the basis that the IPA (respondent) had the power to declare certain conduct political patronage.
Political patronage has been defined as a situation in which one person is rewarded for supporting a particular politician. The respondents argued that the involvement of members of parliament in the work of the DMA had nothing to do with political patronage, and rather to do with the efficient discharge of obligations, thus to feed people during times of famine and natural disasters. Further, that the distribution was done by constituencies, and thus due to members of parliament being elected by the public, they had an intimate knowledge of their communities needs and the constituencies needs in terms of resources.
The court found that this argument was eminently sensible and does not contain an element of political patronage. Further, that political patronage had to be established objectively. The fact that the IPA dictated that conduct was political patronage doesn’t make it so, and to hold this position would amount to an untenable position. Accordingly, the appeal succeeded
The court considered an urgent application regarding quarrying activities, wherein the applicants sought, amongst several other grounds, to interdict the 1st and 2nd respondent from carrying out blasting and quarrying activities, pending the finalisation of the damage caused to the applicants’ houses.
The 3rd respondent operated a quarry for materials needed for the construction of mountain roads and in order to perform their job, blasting was required in order to loosen up the materials. Prior to the commencement of the work photographs of the houses within 500-meter radius of the quarry would be taken, in order to monitor and evaluate the effect of such blasting.
The respondents argued that the applicant had refused to have the liaison committee survey their buildings to detect the damage incurred due to the blasting.
The court considered whether the matter was urgent. It found that even with the applicants’ refusal, the buildings had been photographed and numbered to facilitate the assessment of damage following the blast.
On determining whether the matter was inherently urgent, the court found that the applicants were at all times aware that the blasting had occurred, yet they did nothing. On this basis, the court found that the applicants rights were not being impaired and as such their interdict was not granted. Accordingly, the application was dismissed.
The court considered an application for the applicants to be compensated before removing them from their land for improvements to those sites, as well as an interdict restraining the respondents from removing or demolishing the houses of the applicants without compensating them. The facts surrounded the applicant’s right to occupy the land based on allocation of land letters. The respondents argued that the applicants were in unlawful occupation as only the Urban Land Committee could allocate land. Further, that the Minister had published a legal notice advising the applicants that the land would be taken.
The court considered whether the right to land under s 44 of the Land Act 1979, which governs that the seizure of land for public purposes, was correctly administered. Further, the court stated that in Lesotho, land is not subject to individual ownership, and a person only has a right to occupy and use the land and when land has been taken away by custom, it has to be replaced.
The court found that the applicants, who had collectively spent millions on improvements to their houses, could not have their land taken away and their rights ignored. Further, the court held that peoples land could not be seized without them being consulted and being heard.
The court found that the legal notice issued by the minister was contrary to law as there was no prior consultation and it did not specify the purpose for seizure or the properties to be seized. Accordingly, the application succeeded.
The court considered an application against the decision to suspend the applicant’s license and for compensation as a result of the suspension or non-renewal of his digging license. The applicant was a diamond digger, who found a large diamond and upon enquiring from the mining advisor of the 1st respondent how to dispose of the diamond and to have it valuated, he decided to keep it, until the diamond went missing. The duty of the advisor was to issue digging licenses and to ensure diamonds were sold legally and correctly. Once the advisor noticed that the diamond was missing, he reported to the government representative.
In terms of his digging license, the applicant worked as part of a co-operative society and a mined diamond belonged to the co-operative to be sold. The applicant argued that the reason the diamond was not kept in a safe place, and rather in a grave, and not reported after it went missing was due to the advisor wanting to benefit from the sale.
The court found that there was no reason for the 1st respondent to lie, and in fact it was the applicant who wished to be the sole beneficiary and to gain from the black-market sale. It held further that there was no possibility that the diamond went missing by accident. Accordingly the application was dismissed.
This was an appeal from a decision of the High Court which declared the proclaimed Selected Development Area (SDA) as null and void for failure to comply with Legal Notice 17/1999 and an order requiring compensation of the respondents before they were evicted.
The court determined whether the respondents had legal rights arising from their occupation of the land and if such rights had been extinguished upon proclamation of the SDA, with the non- payment compensation being no bar to eviction.
The court established that the respondents were bona fide occupiers who made useful improvements on the land. Further, the court established that s 17 of the Constitution prohibits compulsory acquisition of any right or interest in property unless the 3 conditions therein are satisfied.: the acquisition must be necessary, justify consequential hardship and there must be prompt and full compensation thereof.
The court found that the constitution does not countenance taking of possession of property without payment of prompt compensation and the appellants cannot assert a right to evict the respondents without compensation.
The court held that the respondents were entitled to compensation and interdicted the appellants from demolishing the developments on the land.
The matter dealt with an application by the applicants against the respondent’s decision to remove them from and refuse them permission to sell their goods. The applicants were street vendors along the Kingsway Street. The 1st respondent had ordered them to relocate, which the applicants refused as the conditions were unfavourable. As a result, the applicants were removed. The applicants argued that in terms of s 5 of the Constitution, by forcing them to relocate their right to life was infringed as it denied their basic means of a livelihood.
The court considered whether the applicants’ removal from the Kingsway Street, was a violation of their right to life. The court found that “life” can be defined as a mammalian biological existence, and in a wider sense, it can be defined as the deprivation of human life itself. In this instance, the court held that the opportunity to trade should be viewed and weighed against other competing interests and values.
The court observed that, trading as a street vendor was a deliberate choice and not the only alternative to a living. Thus, the interests and values of livelihood were outweighed. In conclusion, the court found that to include the right to trade as one’s livelihood in the constitutional right to life would lead to absurd results. Accordingly, the application was dismissed.
The matter dealt with a claim by the appellants for an equal portion of shares in the 2nd respondent (a company).
The background to the case is that the 1st applicant and 1st respondent entered into an agreement to pursue a joint mining venture. The parties signed an MOU which stated that they would hold shares in the 2nd respondent. The applicants contended that the MOU implied that they would hold 50 per cent shares in the 2nd respondent.
The court considered the interpretation of the words in the MOU. The court gave the words their ordinary and natural meaning. It was concluded that in the absence of the usual qualifying or quantifying words, the natural and proper conclusion was that, at the time of signing the M0U, the 1st applicant and 1st respondent had not agreed as to the exact percentages of their respective holdings.
The court dismissed the application with costs to the respondents.
This was an appeal against the order of the High Court that required the appellant to pay M52 900.00 to the respondent. This money was received by the appellant from the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority as compensation for the expropriation of land allotted to the respondent by his widowed mother.
The appellant and respondent, a nephew and uncle, occupied two adjacent properties. These properties were inherited by the appellant’s father and the respondent from their widowed mother in 1964. The court considered firstly, whether the respondent’s mother had a right at law to allocate the land to the appellant’s father and the respondent. Secondly, the court considered whether payment of the compensation ought to have been allocated to the parties in accordance with the portions of land that they occupied.
The court found that there was nothing in law, whether customary law or common law, prohibiting the widow (the respondent’s mother) from making the allotment that she did as it was designed to ensure that, during her lifetime, her sons exercised her rights in and over the fields. The court also found that although there was evidence to show that both properties were registered under the appellant’s father’s name, it was clear that the respondent was occupier and user of the disputed field since 1964, and was therefore entitled to receive compensation.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed with costs.
The court considered an application for an interdict, restraining the respondents and their associates from setting foot near the diamond mine.
The respondents raised several issues, including the material disputes of facts, making the application unsuitable. The correct procedure as the respondents argued, was to proceed through the issuing of summons. The court pointed out that over the years, the court has allowed litigants to proceed by way of action proceedings if facts are not disputed, or if no dispute of fact is foreseeable. The court dealt with the requirements for an interdict and concluded that the applicants met the requirements. The court held that the applicants established a clear right to the mine and the respondents were interfering with such a right. The court also pointed out that there was no clear, alternative right available to the applicants. On the contrary, the respondents had other remedies available in the event that the interdict affected their rights.
The court granted the interdict and restrained the first and second respondents from setting foot at the diamond mine under the administration of the applicant.
This was an appeal in the Court of Appeal against a judgment of the High Court which had dismissed an appeal to it against a judgment of the Judicial Commissioner’s Court, the effect of which was to uphold a decision of a local court. The issue concerned the removal of wood from a plantation by the appellant, which the respondent contended belonged to the community of which he was a headman. The appellant’s reasoning that the plantation was situated in his grandfather’s field was rejected by the court which ordered the appellant to desist from using the plantation and never to use it. The appellant was not satisfied with the ruling, so he appealed unsuccessfully, first to the Central Court, then to the Judicial Commissioner’s Court and finally to the High Court.
The issue for the court’s consideration was whether the local court had the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The court observed that the matter concerned provisions of the Chieftainship Act 22 of 1968 pursuant to which the judge held that the finding by the Office of the Chief did not preclude the appellant from seeking recourse in the Local Court. The court upheld the High Court judge’s view that the dispute between the parties was not a dispute involving claims to; title, exemption from title, or overriding title. Therefore, the submission that the dispute must be dealt with in the Land Court or the District Land Court was not upheld. The appeal was dismissed with costs.
This matter dealt with a land dispute which had commenced in the District Court but was transferred to the Land Court by agreement of the parties. At the end of the trial, an application for absolution from the instance (an order to dismiss a claim on the basis that no order can be made) was made. This application, the applicant sought to include an amendment that would introduce new evidence. The respondents argued that the application was an attempt to cover its failure to comply with the rules of court.
The court considered whether the application was properly before it. The court observed that the applicant had not obtained leave of the court for the application nor consent from the other parties to amend and file further evidence. It relied on r 13 of the Land Court Rules, No. 1 of 2010 and stated that even if the applicant had obtained leave or consent, the court could not grant the application for absolution so as to assist the applicant to cure a defect of none compliance with the rules of court.
It was held that the amendments were an abuse of the court process because the applicant was in fact curing the deficiencies in his pleadings after he had closed his case. Further, the court found that there were no exceptional circumstances to allow the application.
Accordingly, the application was dismissed with costs to the respondents.