Maseru 24th October, 2014 – The African Media Holdings (Pty) Ltd and its newspapers Lesotho Times and Sunday Express have lost a court case in which their company got an interim interdict against a new tabloid, The Post, from publishing.
The decision was made by the Court of Appeal of Lesotho today with three judges concurring, resulting in setting aside the decision of the lower court, The High Court of Lesotho. The latter had issued a court injunction barring The Post (Pty) Ltd from engaging in publishing business in Lesotho in September, 2013.
The high court interdicted The Post (Pty) Ltd, Abel Chapatarongo, Cawell Tlali and Shakeman Mugari “from publishing any newspaper or engaging in the publishing business within the Kingdom of Lesotho…”
Chapatarongo was the director of both Lesotho Times and Sunday Express and also the editor of Lesotho Times as well as the deputy editor of the Sunday Express. Tlali was deputy news editor of both publications while Mugari was the deputy editor of the Lesotho Times and deputy editor of the Sunday Express.
The restraint also barred the three journalists and The Post (Pty) Ltd from carrying on the profession of journalism and publishing business in Lesotho for 36 months and twenty four months for Chapararongo and Mugari.
The interdict further prevented them from carrying such a business within a radius of two hundred (200) kilometres from the offices of the African Media Holdings (Pty) Ltd which owns Lesotho Times and Sunday Express.
African Media Holdings (Pty) Ltd and its two tabloids claimed that the establishment of The Post (Pty) Ltd meant that the journalists who are former employees of the former were engaged in fiduciary duties during their employment and thus threatening with unlawful competition.
“This is a victory for all the journalists in Lesotho as the dismissed High Court judgement meant that no employees will leave their employers to start a journalism business in Lesotho,” argued Chapatarongo in an interview with newsline365.wordpress.com in Maseru today.
The Post is expected to be on the streets in Lesotho from the 6th November, 2014. The newspaper will bring the number of English weeklies to five (5) in a readership of not more than 350,000 people of Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho. The country does not have daily newspapers and advertising is very small with the government being the biggest advertiser.