The Lesotho Housing and Land Development Corporation (LHLDC) is facing legal action over allegations of double selling land plots at Tšalitlama in Mafeteng.
Sibane Holdings (Pty) Ltd, the applicant in the case, claims that they purchased four sites from LHLDC in 2017 and 2018, paying the full amount for each site.
However, LHLDC is alleged to have ignored the holding company’s inquiries and proceeded to advertise the sale of the same sites, prompting an urgent application to the High Court to halt the process.
LHLDC’S MANDATE AND THE LEGAL DISPUTE
LHLDC is a State-owned Enterprise SOE established under the Lesotho Housing and Land Development Corporation Order No. 12 of 1988 under the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship.
It is a product of a merger between the then Lower Income Housing Company (LEHCO-OP) and Lesotho Housing Corporation (LHC).
It has two shareholders; the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship with a majority shareholding of 75 percent and the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) with a minority shareholding of 25 percent.
It has a mandate to provide housing for all in Lesotho and it does this through the provision of rental accommodation, houses for sale, and serviced land for commercial and residential purposes.
Sibane Holdings contends that LHLDC double sold the land plots at Tšalitlama, plot No. 06463-699, plot No. 06463-701, plot No. 06463-702, and plot No. 06463-704, after receiving payment in full through a verbal agreement.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
According to Seth Pusetso Macheli, the Managing Director of Sibane Holdings, the company enquired about available properties from LHLDC in 2017, and the respondent guided them on the available properties, providing prices for each site.
“All of these properties are situated at Mafeteng and all of their purchase process as provided by the sales department of the respondent were around M23 000 for each site,” Macheli said.
The purchase agreements were concluded through verbal agreements in October 2017, with a 30 percent deposit paid for each site.
Subsequently, all balances for the purchased sites were paid in full by April 27, 2018. Despite fulfilling their obligations, Sibane Holdings claims that LHLDC has been non-responsive to their requests for the issuance of the leases and later sent a cancellation notice in February 2023.
URGENT COURT APPLICATION
On July 10, 2023, LHLDC advertised the sale of the disputed sites in the Lesotho Times Newspaper, with the sale scheduled for July 28.
In response, Sibane Holdings urgently sought an audience with the respondent’s managing director, but the attempt to reach an amicable solution was unsuccessful.
“On July 11, members of the applicant sought an urgent audience with the managing director of the respondent in an attempt to reach an amicable solution. This attempt, however, proved to be futile as the respondent’s Managing Director informed members of the applicant’s board that any re-visitation on the respondent’s decision would be lengthy and extend beyond July 28, 2023,” Macheli said.
Sibane Holdings subsequently filed an urgent application with the High Court on July 19, seeking to interdict the process of selling the disputed sites.
The applicant argues that LHLDC’s unilateral cancellation and double selling of the land plots contravene the principles of natural justice, as Sibane Holdings was not given a fair opportunity to be heard before such decisions were made.
Sibane Holdings seeks the review, correction, and setting aside of LHLDC’s administrative decision to cancel the sale agreements.
“They took the law into their own hands,” Macheli argued in court papers. Top of Form