Of Maseru lawyers and witch doc­tors

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

For­mer Act­ing Chief Jus­tice Tseliso mon­a­p­athi once hit the prover­bial nail on the head when he tren­chantly ad­mon­ished the ubiq­ui­tous lawyers in Le­sotho whom he ac­cused of run­ning their “law firms” from the “boots of their sec­ond hand cars” im­ported from Asia. Such lawyers con­se­quently dish out bush ad­vice to their clients re­sult­ing in ram­pant vex­a­tious lit­i­ga­tion.

Scru­ta­tor weighed in and sup­ported the prophetic words of this top judge then by not­ing that many of the ve­hi­cles from whose boots th­ese “law firms” op­er­ate are in fact third, fourth and even fifth hand ve­hi­cles im­ported from Ja­pan. The judge had been gen­er­ous enough by us­ing the word “sec­ond”. The qual­ity of the legal ad­vice is­sued from th­ese boots is equally sec­ond, third, fourth or fifth hand.

Apart from th­ese car boot lawyers, it seems there is now a grow­ing num­ber of “lawyers” run­ning their mo­bile prac­tices from un­der the trees.

The re­sults are the same in that both the “car boot lawyers” and the “un­der the tree ad­vo­cates” are all re­spon­si­ble for dish­ing out scrub­land ad­vice to their clients. Pro­fes­sion­al­ism is the least of their con­cerns. I gather that there are now some lawyers re­sort­ing to con­sult­ing witch doc­tors ( in­yan­gas) to win cases, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion reach­ing my desk. more about that later.

The prob­lem in our po­lit­i­cal arena, wherein we have more po­lit­i­cal par­ties than vot­ers, and where ev­ery­one is vy­ing to be­come the ruler, is well mir­rored in our legal pro­fes­sion, in which we have more lawyers than po­ten­tial clients.

As I have said be­fore, throw a stone around maseru and it is likely to hit some­one call­ing them­selves an ad­vo­cate and not a veg­etable ven­dor.

In such cir­cum­stances, which lawyer can af­ford to turn away a client? Le­sotho’s legal pro­fes­sion is a cut­throat busi­ness. As a re­sult, even a client with the most bizarre and sense­less in­struc­tions is ac­com­mo­dated as long as the moolah to fuel the sec­ond, third or fourth hand ve­hi­cle rolls in?

Any case is ac­cepted and any lit­i­ga­tion pur­sued, no mat­ter how vex­a­tious, clog­ging our jus­tice de­liv­ery sys­tem. Per­haps a mora­to­rium on train­ing lawyers at our uni­ver­si­ties will be in or­der to en­sure qual­ity im­prove­ment among those al­ready en­rolled in this cut­throat sec­tor.

When Jus­tice mon­a­p­athi made his prophetic words, the boy who was then lead­ing the Law So­ci­ety of Le­sotho, Ad­vo­cate mon­a­heng Rasekoai, saw it fit to rep­ri­mand the judge for merely telling truth.

It is, of course, un­der­stand­able that a leader of any or­gan­i­sa­tion is ex­pected to de­fend its mem­bers.

ex­cept that in this case, rasekoai was de­fend­ing the in­de­fen­si­ble and the en­tire ar­ti­cle he wrote in de­fense of his col­leagues was as fee­ble as rasekoai’s own baby face.

asekoai him­self is a very promis­ing, bril­liant and ar­tic­u­late young lawyer. He cer­tainly has a great fu­ture ahead of him in the pro­fes­sion. His own re­al­i­sa­tion that the law so­ci­ety, which in­cludes large grey haired men and women with pot bel­lies, can­not it­self be led by a boy or chil­dren and his sub­se­quent de­ci­sion to throw in the towel to con­cen­trate on run­ning his own cred­i­ble law firm speaks vol­umes of his wit (not that he had elected him­self in the first place).

The young rasekoai, whom I cer­tainly would rec­om­mend to my younger sis­ter for mar­riage, had nev­er­the­less lost the plot in his sharp crit­i­cism of Judge mon­a­p­athi.

Judge mon­a­p­athi was right in his re­marks. He re­mains right now and will be proven right in the fu­ture. The com­pe­tence lev­els of our lawyers are ex­ceed­ingly wor­ry­ing. This is not to say there aren’t good lawyers around. oh no!!!.

We have many good ex­pe­ri­enced lawyers. But the shoddy, in­com- pe­tent ones by far out­num­ber the classy ones.

re­mem­ber that even be­fore Jus­tice mon­a­p­athi’s in­struc­tive re­marks, for­mer Ap­peal Court Pres­i­dent Jan Steyn once scolded lo­cal lawyers over the poor qual­ity of their fil­ings at the courts with some ap­pear­ing like they had been drafted by first week (not first year) law stu­dents.

any of you might al­ready be won­der­ing why I am bring­ing the sub­ject of bush lawyers again when the coun­try is only two weeks away from a snap gen­eral elec­tion and when the po­lit­i­cal arena is awash with stu­pid­ity de­serv­ing acer­bic com­men­tary.

I am bring­ing this sub­ject again be­cause I am frankly sick and tired of the poor qual­ity of legal ad­vice that is of­ten dished out to un­sus­pect­ing Ba­sotho by some of th­ese bush lawyers re­sult­ing in the many vex­a­tious law­suits that some­times end up clog­ging our courts.

This news­pa­per and my­self are regular vic­tims of this legal asinin­ity and thought­less­ness.

A per­fect ex­am­ple is a law­suit once raised against this com­pany by a news­pa­per sub­scriber who sued the Le­sotho Times for de­liv­er­ing his news­pa­per late one Thurs­day morn­ing. It was only dur­ing that one week when the news­pa­per was de­liv­ered late.

But the sub­scriber in ques­tion ac­tu­ally went as far as fil­ing court pa­pers al­leg­ing that be­cause his copy of the Le­sotho Times had been de­liv­ered late, he missed out on op­por­tu­ni­ties to see jobs and ten­ders ad­ver­tise­ments and had, as a re­sult, lost in­come.

The daft lit­i­gant ar­gued that be­cause he had missed out on that Thurs­day’s edi­tion, his com­pany had in turn missed out on an op­por­tu­nity to see and win the ad­ver­tised ten­ders. His chil­dren had also missed out the chance to see job ad­ver­tise­ments and ap­ply for em­ploy­ment. So they had lost the chance to be hired. For all this “prej­u­dice” the silly lit­i­gant de­manded the Le­sotho Times pay him a whoop­ing M100 000.

The best re­sponse would have been to tell this per­son to sod off. But as you will know, ev­ery court sum­mon (no mat­ter how vex­a­tious), re­quires a re­sponse, lest a de­fault judg­ment en­sue.

I was not so much an­noyed by the stu­pid­ity of the lit­i­gant but by the an­thro­po­log­i­cal fool­ish­ness and lack of shame by the lawyer who spent time and en­ergy draft­ing all the court pa­pers that were served to us.

Be­cause of the fu­tile na­ture of this court bid, the Le­sotho Times had no op­tion but to ask our lawyers to first get a se­cu­rity of costs or­der as there was no way any judge (no mat­ter how naïve) would grant such a crass ap­pli­ca­tion.

Such an or­der would en­sure that this vex­a­tious lit­i­gant pro­vided the nec­es­sary se­cu­rity up­front to pay our costs in the event of his in­evitable los­ing of the silly case.

At this stage, the lit­i­gant dis­ap­peared and aban­doned his ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore it could be heard. But not be­fore wast­ing our time and re­sources.

The ques­tion is how can any se­ri­ous lawyer out there ad­vice a client to sue over a late de­liv­ery of a news­pa­per?

Does early ar­rival of a news­pa­per sub­scrip­tion guar­an­tee that any­one will win a ten­der? How could any self-re­spect­ing lawyer stand be­fore a judge and ar­gue such a warped case?

As if this was not enough, there was the case of a man who sued af­ter a pic­ture of a group of soc­cer sup­port­ers, with him in­cluded, was pub­lished in this news­pa­per.

The man claimed he had lied to his wife that he was go­ing to a fu­neral but ended up at the soc­cer match with his girl­friend.

By pub­lish­ing the pho­to­graph, the man claimed, the Le­sotho Times had ex­posed him to his wife who had threat­ened to di­vorce him.

So the man wanted us to pay him m500 000 for vi­o­lat­ing his pri­vacy by pub­lish­ing the pic­ture. The fact that a lawyer could see it fit to write a let­ter of de­mand on be­half of this in­sane client made me al­most lose re­spect for the legal pro­fes­sion in this coun­try.

Any self-re­spect­ing lawyer would surely have, upon be­ing ap­proached by such a client, called the near­est am­bu­lance and en­sured that the client got con­fined to the near­est psy­chi­atric unit.

But in a coun­try in which clients are few and far be­tween, this could not hap­pen.

I have en­coun­tered many other sim­i­larly fool­ish law­suits which I can­not all re­peat here.

The ques­tion then is; why do our lawyers stoop so low by tak­ing up such flimsy cases?

When I re­cently heard that some of our bush lawyers are now ap­proach­ing witch doc­tors to win cases, I was not sur­prised. The only prob­lem for them is that no spell can ever sway our ven­er­a­ble and com­pe­tent judges.

Court cases are won on the ba­sis of sound legal ar­gu­ment. There are two in­gre­di­ents that make a good lawyer; ac­cess to a very well equipped li­brary and a vo­ra­cious ap­petite to read.

Any lawyer as­pir­ing to have a sound ju­rispru­den­tial mind must have an ap­petite to read which, by far, must ex­ceed his or her sex­ual ap­petite.

It’s only through thor­ough re­search and dis­cov­ery of legal prin­ci­ples of the law, as set out in prece­dents and other sources of law, and ap­ply­ing th­ese prin­ci­ples cor­rectly to the rel­e­vant facts that cases are won. There is no room for in­yan­gas in law.

one area in which vir­tu­ally all Ba­sotho lawyers ap­pear chal­lenged is in the field of the law of defama­tion.

I have of­ten en­deav­ored to help our lawyers un­der­stand this field of law by high­light­ing to them cases which they must study to equip them­selves with the req­ui­site knowl­edge to un­der­stand defama­tion.

I do this in the same way that I of­ten share my wis­dom with dun­der­head politi­cians to achieve bet­ter gov­er­nance and pros­per­ity in this coun­try.

With our lawyers, how­ever, I seem to be fight­ing a los­ing battle.

They nei­ther lis­ten nor read the rec­om­mended sources.

Some­times I try to sum­marise land­mark judg­ments mostly passed in the South African courts, which are all rel­e­vant in Le­sotho, as the two coun­tries share the same legal pedestal, but to no avail.

At one stage, the sit­u­a­tion was very bad. I would walk into my of­fice ev­ery Mon­day to find my in-tray filled with let­ters of de­mand from many bush lawyers rep­re­sent­ing clients al­leg­ing that I had de­famed them.

That was un­til many Ba­sotho re­alised that Scru­ta­tor’s wis­dom is given by the outer gods and is never to be chal­lenged.

Who­ever fol­lows what I say is bound to pros­per in their re­spec­tive ar­eas of en­deavor.

In­deed those who have lis­tened to what I say have be­come bet­ter judges, lawyers, politi­cians, doc­tors, teach­ers, ac­coun­tants etc.

The ex­cep­tion is the in­yan­gas as I am ig­no­rant about their field of en­deavor and can­not guide them.

one man who seems pre­pared to ig­nore Scru­ta­tor at his own peril is the now gar­ru­lous Joshua Setipa, the for­mer LNDC boss.

I found a vex­a­tious let­ter de­mand­ing that I must pay him a stag­ger­ing m3 mil­lion for “de­fam­ing” him over a pre­vi­ous col­umn in which I ad­mon­ished him for ly­ing about his pre­vi­ous af­fil­i­a­tion to the Demo­cratic Congress.

Ishall not seek to sum­marise that col­umn again as most of you would have read it (I re­ceived 4470 re­sponses on my gmail ac­count).

my ques­tion to Setipa is what do you ex­pect the mighty Scru­ta­tor to do with ly­ing politi­cians?

Af­ter a politi­cian has been ex­posed for ly­ing, do you ex­pect me to pat him/her on the back and say well done?

Af­ter you re­peat­edly de­nied that you never had any as­so­ci­a­tion with the DC, un­til the party comes to our of­fices and pro­duces your 10 year membership sub­scrip­tion, did you ex­pect me to congratulate you for ly­ing and as­sure you my vote on 28 Fe­bru­ary.

In­stead of get­ting an­noyed by my threat to in­ves­ti­gate whether you were in­deed an ad­vi­sor to the WTO boss, or the prover­bial slave sent to carry the boss over his shoul­ders up and down the steps of the hu­mun­gus WTO Geneva head­quar­ters, you should have quickly dis­patched the num­ber or email of whichever WTO boss you served and chal­lenged me to prove the facts by phon­ing him di­rectly to con­firm that you were in­deed the ad­vi­sor.

In­stead of get­ting an­noyed by my threat to check if you are a holder of real qual­i­fi­ca­tions or Pallo Jor­dan qual­i­fi­ca­tions, you should have chal­lenged me to es­tab­lish the facts by send­ing me the phone num­bers of the regis­trars of all the uni­ver­si­ties you en­rolled at. I will be chew­ing my hat by now.

For the unini­ti­ated among us, Jor­dan is yet an­other ANC scum­bag, who for 40 years lied that he holds a doc­tor­ate from the ven­er­a­ble Lon­don School of eco­nomics.

re­mem­ber bro Josh, if you tell a lie, you open your­self to scru­tiny over ev­ery­thing else you have said or done be­fore.

Af­ter Jor­dan’s lies were ex­posed, it be­came fash­ion­able for the me­dia

For your in­for­ma­tion Bra Josh, I was dig­ging my grand­mother’s grave last week and dis­cov­ered a trea­sure trove of di­a­monds be­lieved to have been stashed un­der­ground in my an­ces­tral yard in Qacha by ram­pant colo­nial­ists dur­ing moshoeshoe’s wars with them in the 19th cen­tury.

The good news is that I am on my way to An­twerp and if th­ese are le­git­i­mate di­a­monds I am ad­vised I might rack in an un­be­liev­able m200 mil­lion.

So the m3 mil­lion that you want me to pay you will be­come my pocket change. The bad news, how­ever, is that I will not pay you the m3 mil­lion you want. In fact I won’t pay you a sin­gle penny. Sorry Josh if you are run­ning out of cam­paign money.

my in­ter­est is in en­sur­ing that this coun­try gets a new breed of hon­est politi­cians who will move this coun­try for­ward. If we let you get away with ly­ing now, what will hap­pen when you as­sume the levers of power.

Your mis­take was prob­a­bly be­cause you are still a novice in pol­i­tics. So I will for­give you pro­vided you never tell a lie again. I still be­lieve in you.

even though you have no chance in hell of win­ning the maseru con­stituency, re­gard­less of the num­ber of bill­boards you plas­ter around, you may still end up in Par­lia­ment and in cabi­net via the Pr route.

This is not be­cause I don’t want you to win a con­stituency. You know bet­ter that maseru is a Cy­clone Tom power­base. Just wit­ness the sheer num­bers at his ral­lies in the cities.

De­spite your tragic mis­take, you are a vast im­prove­ment from the trash that pop­u­lates our pol­i­tics.

It will be good if you end up in Par­lia­ment and even in cabi­net in a pos­si­ble DC/LCD coali­tion. But if you lie again, ex­pect no mercy from Scru­ta­tor.

Th­ese words are not meant to dis­suade you from pur­su­ing your law­suit.

Iam rel­ish­ing the chance to take you on in court. Af­ter I dress you down there, you will learn to have a thick skin. That will make you a bet­ter politi­cian. re­mem­ber the judges will not rule in my favour be­cause they will drool at see­ing my shiny pink lin­gerie via my see through lace dress as I walk into court (that is if they are male) or be­cause of any need to pro­mote any sis­ter­hood spirit (if they are fe­male).

They will rule in my favour be­cause Scru­ta­tor must be pro­tected at all costs for the good of this King­dom.

For the du­ra­tion of the court case, I will also chris­ten you “our very own TB Joshua”. Re­mem­ber your name­sake; that money grab­bing char­la­tan from La­gos, who has abused God’s name to rack in mil­lions from un­sus­pect­ing peo­ple through fake mir­a­cles.

When TB killed dozens on his com­pound due to poor ar­chi­tec­tural work on his dor­mi­tory, he blamed it all on a UFO (uniden­ti­fied fly­ing ob­ject). Far worse than ly­ing about one’s po­lit­i­cal past. But abom­inable nev­er­the­less.

Af­ter you have lost your case, I may re­sort to call­ing you mr Setipa, to re­duce your agony. At least you are not us­ing a bush lawyer. But a re­spectable one with an ego the size of the eif­fel Tower nev­er­the­less. I look for­ward to meet­ing both of you in the palace of jus­tice.

Ache!!!!

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