Lesotho-Based Aviation Firm Sues Government for R10 Million, Aiming to Transport Diamonds to South Africa

Diamonds
  1. Mohahlaula Airlines, a Lesotho-based aviation company, is suing the government for R10 million in damages, alleging a violation of the country’s mining law.
  2. The lawsuit claims that mines in Lesotho are not utilizing Mohahlaula’s local services for diamond transportation to South Africa, despite the law’s preference for local service providers.
  3. Mohahlaula Airlines is seeking to expand its services, with plans to offer low-cost commercial flights to and from Maseru in addition to its diamond transportation and aerial survey operations.

A Lesotho aviation charter company, Bohlokoa Aviation, operating under the name Mohahlaula Airlines, has filed a lawsuit against the Lesotho government, seeking R10 million in damages, plus interest. The company alleges that the government has violated the nation’s mining law by allowing mines to bypass utilizing their services for diamond transportation to South Africa via air.

According to court documents dated 28 March 2023, and reviewed by News24, Mohahlaula Airlines has brought the lawsuit against the government in the High Court of Lesotho. The company argues that the Lesotho government is not adhering to the country’s Mines and Minerals Act, which requires the use of local services when available, as opposed to similar services from outside the country.

Based at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport in Maseru, Mohahlaula Airlines had identified a business opportunity in 2017 to transport diamonds from Lesotho mines to South Africa, in addition to providing aerial survey work for these mines. Subsequently, the company secured investment capital to expand its services in order to meet the demand.

Mohahlaula claims to have incurred significant costs, including acquiring aircraft, hiring pilots and other staff, purchasing equipment, procuring insurance, obtaining permits and licenses, and maintaining operating capital. In March 2020, the company reached out to the diamond mines in Lesotho to offer its services, but received no response. In January 2022, the company approached the Lesotho Department of Civil Aviation to raise the issue.

The lawsuit alleges that the Lesotho Civil Aviation Authority continues to issue temporary airspace permits to foreign operators, allowing mines in the country to avoid using Mohahlaula’s locally available services. The Lesotho government now has 30 days to respond to the summons issued by Mohahlaula Airlines.

As reported by News24 in August of last year, Mohahlaula Airlines aspires to extend its services beyond diamond transportation and aerial surveys. The company’s future plans include offering low-cost scheduled commercial flights to and from Maseru, further bolstering its position within the local aviation industry.

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