Judge to sue MP over Kamoli
HIGH Court judge, Justice Molefi Makara, says he is planning to sue a Member of Parliament (MP) for allegedly accusing him of being intimidated by army commander, Lieutenant-general Tlali Kamoli, on a local radio station.
Justice Makara made the revelation on Monday during the hearing of an application by Lt-gen Kamoli’s lawyers for the judge to recuse himself from a case in which 22 soldiers wanted the army commander jailed for contempt of court. The judge took himself off the case on Tuesday, citing the “collapsed” nature of his relationship with some of the lawyers involved in the case.
Justice Makara ruled on 5 October 2015 the soldiers, who were detained between May and June this year for suspected mutiny, should be placed under open arrest and attend their trial by a Court Martial while coming from home.
However, the soldiers remained in custody despite the ruling.
Following a contempt application by the lawyers representing the detained soldiers, Justice Makara cleared Lt-gen Kamoli of the charge on 16 October 2015 saying he had not understood the ruling, but ordered the LDF to comply with the order and release the detainees with immediate effect.
According to Justice Makara, he was criticised on the radio station and accused of being intimidated by Lt-gen Kamoli following this ruling. The Lesotho Times has since established that the legislator who allegedly criticized the judge was All Basotho Convention MP for Mokhotlong constituency, Tefo Mapesela.
Justice Makara said in the hearing the “scandalous” remarks were tantamount to contempt of court. The judge made the statement after King’s Counsel Motiea Teele, who represented Lt-gen Kamoli in the case, said he would contact the Lesotho Communications Authority to compel the station to release the audio recording of the programme in question.
“In fact, I have the recording of that programme and I am now contemplating legal action,” Justice Makara said without divulging the name of the legislator.
“The presenter of that programme has just been called and advised of her responsibilities. The call was also meant to get a recording of the programme.”
The lawyer argued that Justice Maka- ra would likely be biased against Lt-gen Kamoli because of the criticism levelled against him on the radio station.
“The question is whether the utterance by a politician, which borders on contempt, is enough to prove the judge’s partiality,” Advocate Teele said.
However, Justice Makara said his decision to recuse himself was not a result of being intimidated by Lt-gen Kamoli.
“To set the record straight, I have never been intimidated by anyone in this case, and ever since I became a judicial officer, I have never been intimidated,” he said.
“But if a person is aggrieved by my judgment, he should approach the Court of Appeal peacefully and professionally.”
Contacted yesterday, Mr Mapesela refused to comment on the issue, saying the judge did not mention him by name.
“There are 120 MPS in the august house, so it does not automatically mean he was referring to me when he said a parliamentarian,” said Mr Mapesela.
Asked if he ever made such remarks on a radio programme, the MP said: “I cannot comment on that because I say so many things over the radio, so I cannot say anything on this, especially considering that the judge did not mention me directly.”
To set the record straight, I have never been intimidated by anyone in this case, and ever since I became a judicial officer, I have never been intimidated
HIGH Court judge Justice Molefi Makara