Judge to sue MP over Kamoli

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

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

Jus­tice Molefi Makara.

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