There are two methods of conducting an investigation into a complaint. The Ombudsman may approach a matter informally by telephone or letter and the matter may very well be concluded following that procedure.
He may choose to carry out a formal investigation. In this procedure the Ombudsman sits as a tribunal to take evidence from the parties. A hearing is preceded by the issuance of summonses or subpoenae by which people are called to appear before the Ombudsman in varying capacities.
At the hearing parties state their cases in turns, ordinarily the complainant being the first to take a stand. The parties have a right to challenge each other’s version by way of cross-examination. Of course the Ombudsman also has the right to put questions to the parties and witnesses the object of which is to seek clarification and reconciliation of any conflicts that may appear from the evidence.
So far the Ombudsman has held three public inquiries two of which are complete and reports thereon released. These all relate to complaints against the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA). Since the inception of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (the project) the Office of the Ombudsman has received complaints of the members of the public who have been affected in their properties in various ways in their hundreds. On account of the volumes of complaints against one and the same agency it was considered prudent to hold a public inquiry so as to dispose of the many complaints in the shortest possible period as opposed to dealing with each of the complaints separately. Another purpose was to enable those people who have not filed their complaints to do so at an inquiry.
In an effort to make the Office accessible to complainants, these inquiries were held at various sites; one in the capital city ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre, the other in the foothills Molengoane Lodge and three in the mountains; Mohale, Katse and Mporosane.