South Africa: Lesotho Consulate to Be Sued Over SA Fuel Debt

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4 February 2020

A South African fuel company, Eriksons Motor Centre, has threatened to seize the property of Lesotho Consulate in Welkom over its alleged failure to settle its outstanding fuel debts.

In a letter to the consulate this week, the Welkom-based company states that the consulate is in arrears for the three months of October, September and October 2019.

The company says it has suspended the consulate's fuel account until the arrears have been fully settled.

"I would like to bring to your attention that the South African Petroleum and Liquid Fuels Industry is cash driven in totality," Eriksons states in his 27 January 2020 letter to the consulate.

"Your account is outstanding for August 2019, September 2019 and October 2019 and is therefore on hold till payment is received. We will take possession of your office equipment if the account is not settled immediately."

Staff at the consulate did not respond to the Lesotho Times' telephone calls and messages seeking comment on the issue.

However, a staff member at Eriksons yesterday confirmed the authenticity of the letter. She said the consulate had still not yet paid them and they were fast losing patience.

"It is a fact that the Lesotho consulate owes us money for fuel and we have the records to prove it.

"You can quote me on this because it is common knowledge that those people have developed the notoriety of owing their suppliers money. To date they have not paid anything even after we sent them that communication. I will have no other choice but to sue them," the Eriksons staffer said on condition of anonymity.

This is not the first time the consulate in Welkom has experienced serious financial challenges.

In October 2018, workers at the consulate were locked out of the consulate office over non-payment of rentals.

The Welkom consulate is not alone in experiencing financial challenges as several other missions in South Africa and abroad complained about the government's failure to allocate them funds to discharge their obligations.

Last month, Lesotho's Consul General in Johannesburg, Majoro Mohapi, said there was no need for Lesotho to maintain its presence in South Africa when it was failing to provide diplomatic staff with the necessary resources.

Mr Mohapi claimed that his office was failing to pay for services and he had to illegally reconnect his electricity whenever it was disconnected for non-payment.

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