Judge lashes out
. . . accuses Attorney General’s office of lack of courtesy
HIGH Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, on Monday lashed out at the office of the Attorney General for not notifying lawyers if it does not oppose claims lodged against the government.
Justice Monaphathi made the remarks when postponing a case in which Standard Lesotho Bank employee, Tšepo Ntjanyana, is claiming M110 000 from the police for assault and unlawful detention.
Mr Ntjanyana’s lawyer, Advocate Kefuoe Mashaile, had told the court that the defendants in the case had not indicated whether or not they would oppose the claim.
The defendants include the Commissioner of Police and Attorney General.
Advocate Mashaile said since the defendants had not shown any interest to defend the case, he was ready to bring his client into the witness box to testify.
However, the lawyer further said he could not proceed because the client was not in court that day, and subsequently asked for a postponement of the case.
Criticising the office of the Attorney General, which represents government in civil cases, Justice Monaphathi said it should have the courtesy to inform complainants about its stance on such litigation.
“I am surprised that the government doesn’t notify the other party if it doesn’t defend the case. At least there should be a letter to a lawyer on the other side notifying him that they have been served and that they don’t oppose. This is a very serious issue, yet the government keeps quiet when it is being sued; it does not have the courtesy to inform the other party of its position in such matters. What kind of practice is this?” he asked, before postponing the case to Monday next week.
Mr Ntjanyana, according to court records, alleges officers from Flight One Police Station on 24 May 2014 blocked his vehicle as he was driving in Masianokeng on his way from Thaba-tseka.
He alleges as the police forced their vehicle in front of his, the two cars had a slight collision.
Mr Ntjanyana further alleges the police then arrested and charged him with reckless driving. Mr Ntjanyana also alleges he was locked-up in a cell at Flight One Police Station, and severely assaulted during the detention.
According to his lawyer, Advocate Mashaile, Mr Ntjanyana spent a week at St Joseph’s Hospital in Roma where he was treated following the detention and assault.
The lawyer further argues his client was never brought to court by the police to face any charge.
Advocate Mashaile said because of the alleged ill-treatment, his client was seeking compensation from the police.
High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi