High court un­der spot­light

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote Tefo Tefo

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

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