High court under spotlight
DEMOCRATIC Congress (DC) leader Pakalitha Mosisili says Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is not fit to hold office and should never be voted into power again.
Addressing scores of party supporters at a star-rally held in Ha Foso on Sunday, Dr Mosisili accused the premier of forcing the poll on an unwilling nation due to his failure to properly manage the coalition government. The poor leadership, he further alleged, had led to the collapse of the tripartite government midway into its five-year term.
Dr Mosisili, who was prime minister from 1998 until he was succeeded by Dr Thabane in June 2012, further accused the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader of hypocrisy in his fight against corruption.
The ABC, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) led by Mothetjoa Metsing and Thesele ‘Maseribane, formed a coalition government after the 26 May 2012 election had failed to produce an outright majority winner, but the alliance has since collapsed due to differences over the premier’s alleged dictatorial tendencies.
“Thabane failed as a prime minister because of his dishonesty and selfishness. He showed how self-centred he is to Deputy Prime Minister Metsing and his party, the LCD.
“Thabane became a prime minister and Thesele the sports minister simply because Metsing became their stepping-stone. But the two later turned against people who had handed them power and by so doing, showed their dictatorial tendencies, and how dishonest they are,” Dr Mosisili said.
“We are launching our election manifesto and campaign today under the theme, restore Basotho’s good governance, restore the rule of law, and restore Lesotho’s sovereignty because under Thabane’s government, these were all destroyed yet they are what define us as a people.”
The DC leader also accused his successor of promoting conflict among Basotho, poor leadership and failing to adhere to his anti-corruption principles.
“When this man came into office, he promised that he would fight corruption — only to make a U-turn and start to encourage corruption left, right and centre in his administration”.
Dr Mosisili said Lehlohonolo Scott’s escape from Maseru Central Prison in 2012 was an example of how corrupt the coalition government was. Scott, who was awaiting trial for the suspected ritual murder of two Koalabata residents in 2012, escape from the high-security prison under unclear circumstances and was only arrested in Durban, South Africa, in April this year. He is being detained in Durban North Correctional Service, while his extradition hearing continues in the Durban North Magistrate’s Court.
Dr Mosisili sensationally claimed the coalition government had released M500 000 to Lesotho’s Durban Consulate for Scott’s legal fees.
“After his unlawful release from SENIOR High Court judge Justice Semapo Peete has attributed the poor administration of justice in Lesotho to incompetent support staff.
Justice Peete was addressing High Court Assessors during their maiden induction training held in Maseru this week. The twoday workshop started on Tuesday and was being facilitated by Justices Tšeliso Monaphathi, Molefi Makara and Peete.
Assessors advise judges analyse facts during criminal proceedings, as well as the appropriate sentence.
Justice Peete told the Assessors that the unnecessary postponement of criminal cases in the High Court was largely the result of inept complementary staff.
“Sometimes, a case has to be postponed on a simple reason that a certain interpreter cannot be in a certain court because she or he has not been assigned to that particular judge.
“If you compare our High Court with the Nigerian situation, you find that ours is equivalent to their local court.“here, peo- prison, which we were told was a mysterious petroleum jelly escape, Scott was caught in South Africa. Then we heard the government saying it is still seeking Scott’s return to stand trial here in Lesotho.
However, in an unfortunate turn of events, we have since been informed that this very same government has released funds to the tune of M500 000 to Lerato Tšosane, our Consul General in Durban, to pay for Scott’s legal fees.
“This is clear case of running with the hare and chasing with the hounds. The government is pretending to be seeking Scott’s extradition, while paying for his lawyers at the same time so that he cannot be extradited. This is corruption at its worst.
“If anybody in government accuses me of lying, then that person should disclose why more than M500 000 from the government of Lesotho was deposited into Lerato Tsosane’s bank account.”
Dr Mosisili also said another indicator of bad governance by Dr Thabane was his decision to issue diplomatic passports to two members of the Gupta family early this year. The super-rich Guptas, who are of Indian origin, have made unsavoury headlines of late in South Africa, where they operate mining, information technology and media businesses.
“How did non-basotho Indian Guptas get hold of our diplomatic passports? Basotho don’t have diplomatic passports, but the Guptas have the passports and that is corruption. ple just don’t care. People don’t care about so many things; be it punctuality or professionalism.“for instance, I was in Bloemfontein last week. If lawyers are not in court when trial is supposed to proceed, the case is struck off the roll. They mean business,” he said.
One of the Assessors, former Police Commissioner Jonas Malewa, also raised concern about the “lots of communication breakdown” between them and judges’ clerks, which sometimes lead to soured relationships.“there are some administrative issues that adversely affect our duties. Normally, the courts start at 9:30am and we arrive in court on time.
“But we then spend a long time doing nothing. And I think judges’ clerks are to blame for this because sometimes, they tell us to remain in our offices, saying they would tell us once the judge goes to court.
“You would then be surprised to find that judges are already in court and when you confront that particular clerk who kept you waiting, he or she would simply tell you he or she forgot to let you know that the judge was going to court.
This makes us appear irresponsible, yet it would not be our fault,” he said.some of the
“We have also recently heard that even Thabane’s son has a diplomatic passport. Being a prime minister’s son doesn’t give you a right to hold a diplomatic passport of Lesotho, even ‘Me’ Liabiloe Ramoholi, the prime minister’s partner, doesn’t have the right to a diplomatic passport because she is not Ntate Thabane’s spouse. She can be his friend or partner, not his wife.
I am saying this because Thabane and ‘Me’ Lipolelo’s marriage is still legal. However, I don’t have a problem with Ntate Thabane’s relationship with ‘Me’ Liabiloe, but I do have a problem when a man who said he was going to fight corruption commits acts of corruption with impunity.”
The DC leader also accused Dr Thabane of bringing chaos to Lesotho’s security agencies, namely the Lesotho Mounted Police Service and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
“Some of us were once imprisoned by the army when we were ministers, and we worked hard to depoliticise the LDF. But just see how Thabane has recklessly brought a crisis into the same LDF in just two years as prime minister.
“And he has also done the same to the police. It’s shocking that in the two years he has been in power, the man has had three police commissioners. In fact, Ntate Masupha Masupha (Acting Commissioner of Police) is the fourth commissioner of police in two years.”
Dr Mosisili also took a swipe at the Principal Chief of Thaba-bosiu, Khoabane Theko, accusing him of “overstepping his bounds” and “ex- Assessors also accused certain judges of embarrassment by refusing to sit with them in trials as required by procedure.
They alleged when an Assessor goes to a judge he or she would have been assigned to assist, the response is sometimes hostile.“you are sometimes told that there is no law that compels him or her to sit with an Assessor, and you are sent away.
“It is very embarrassing for grown-ups to be expelled like that,” one of the Assessors said. However, Senior High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi said he was shocked to hear such claims by the Assessors.“is this happening in our court? I have never heard of such a thing in over 20 years of being on the bench,” Justice Monaphathi said.
“In the past, Assessors used to be appointed without an established criteria or vision to train them in future, while other cadres, including judicial officers, received training in various aspects of the law. Assessors were sadly left in the lurch.
“An Assessor, ladies and gentlemen, plays a very critical role in assisting the court reach posing the monarch and chieftainship to political conflicts and criticism”.
“We worked hard together while I was in government to ensure chiefs are not political actors so that the monarch is protected from political conflicts.
But under Thabane’s government, we see principal chiefs going out with politicians and holding public gatherings to fight political battles,” he said.
“Chief Theko, who is also chairman of the College of Chiefs, openly told a crowd attending the 1982 Maseru Massacre commemoration at Pitso Ground that principal chiefs would be supporting the ABC and BNP and persuading people to vote for the two parties in the upcoming elections.
“I condemn such involvement of principal chiefs in politics. This is a sign of poor governance and decay in our politics and clearly shows we need to return to office to rebuild our nation.
“If Chief Theko and his colleagues want to fight political wars, they should vacate their positions so we can meet on the political battlefield.”
Meanwhile, Sunday’s rally was attended by LCD heavyweights, among them Acting Spokesperson Selibe Mochoboroane and Elders Committee member Mpho Malie. Lesotho People’s Congress Spokesperson Bokang Ramatšella also attended the rally.
Repeated efforts to get a response from Dr Thabane regarding Dr Mosisili’s accusations were unsuccessful. an informed judgment.“he or she is a person appointed to assist the court in trying a case which requires specialised technical knowledge.
“In our jurisdiction, Assessors are used virtually exclusively in criminal trials. Their role is to assist the court in reaching an informed judgment in matters of fact only. In matters of law, it is the exclusive province of the judge.”
Justice semapo Peete