We need more hon­est judges!

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

IT’S not very of­ten that one hears a judge speak can­didly as Jus­tice Molefi Makara did last week. The only other time I have heard a judge speak so can­didly was when High Court judge, Jus­tice Tšeliso Mon­a­p­athi con­demned Le­sotho’s ubiq­ui­tous lawyers that run their law firms from the boots of their third and fourth-hand car im­ports from Ja­pan or al­ter­na­tively from Khu­bet­soana tav­erns.

Judges re­frain from pub­lic com­men­tary just in case they have to one day ad­ju­di­cate on the is­sues they have com­mented about. That can eas­ily open them to ac­cu­sa­tions of bias.

Let me il­lus­trate that point by means of an ex­am­ple. Let’s say for in­stance Judge Makara once made a pub­lic com­ment that Thabo Thakalekoala is an “id­iot”. Then for some rea­son, Thakalekoala brings for­ward a law­suit one day to be de­clared the most hand­some man in Le­sotho. Far more hand­some than his for­mer boss who has since jet­ti­soned him, Cy­clone Tom (or more aptly Thomas Tha­bane). If Judge Makara rules against Thakalekoala, it opens the judge to ac­cu­sa­tions of bias as he would al­ready have pro­nounced him­self on Thakalekoala. That will in turn put the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice into ill re­pute. The mul­ti­tudes of women who think Thakalekoala is bet­ter look­ing than Tha­bane, or than any other man who God has put on this earth, will prob­a­bly throng Judge Makara’s of­fice and ac­cuse him of bias.

So, it is only in rare cases that judges speak openly. In most cases, they will try to be as gen­eral as pos­si­ble. Un­less of course they are com­ment­ing on the ob­vi­ous like Jus­tice Mon­a­p­athi’s sem­i­nal com­ments against our many lawyers who have to sup­ple­ment their in­come by set­ting up car wash busi­nesses and sell­ing muffins as they are just too many of them, mak­ing Le­sotho an­other coun­try of firsts with more lawyers than ac­tual clients to rep­re­sent.

Speak­ing at a re­cent anti-cor­rup­tion sym­po­sium or­gan­ised by the Di­rec­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences (DCEO), the Le­sotho Rev­enue Au­thor­ity (LRA) and the Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice ( LMPS), Judge Makara ac­cused cer­tain peo­ple of be­ing above the law and es­sen­tially get­ting away with mur­der be­cause the coun­try’s le­gal sys­tem was weak.

“There must be clear political will to fight cor­rup­tion and that should not be selec­tive,” thun­dered the judge.

“It should not be that if to­day X is in power, all peo­ple who are close to X will en­joy their salutes and other ac­co­lades and only be­come vic­tims when X loses power…….

“We should not start mak­ing X’s sub­or­di­nates vic­tims and be­gin re­al­is­ing that they were in­volved in cor­rupt prac­tices when X steps out of of­fice……if X’s sub­or­di­nates are cor­rupt, they should be pros­e­cuted while X is still in of­fice….,” the judge added.

Please note that I have slightly adapted the Judge’s quotation so that the learned judge’s com­ments can make sense to the reader. The news­pa­per that orig­i­nally pub­lished his quotes ver­ba­tim is known for writ­ing in Sothonglish and shows lit­tle or no re­gard to the real Queen’s lan­guage. So it of­ten mis­quotes peo­ple though I could un­der­stand the jist of Judge Makara’s com­ments.

Judge’s Makara’s re­marks may have been too gen­eral but they are def­i­nitely in­struc­tive of the malaise sad­dling our King­dom. There are guys here who are surely above the law. Th­ese are the un­touch­ables. The judge made sure he did not men­tion any names. In­deed that is what a learned judge must do. Judges ought to be care­ful when they make re­marks out­side judg­ments for the rea­sons I have out­lined above.

There is no prize for guess­ing the per­son­al­i­ties that are above the law in Le­sotho. Like Judge Makara, Scru­ta­tor is also go­ing to avoid men­tion­ing any names in this in­stal­ment. But I am sure we all know who th­ese peo­ple are.

Some were be­ing re­cently chased by Cy­clone Tom for var­i­ous cases of graft. Since the evic­tion of Cy­clone Tom from power, th­ese cases will now suf­fer still-births. Some of those who served un­der Cy­clone Tom are now be­ing pur­sued by Mr Size Two. Mr Size Two is de­ter­mined to see his coali­tion sur­vive its full ten­ure as he de­clared last week.

But let’s say the un­think­able hap­pens and he also gets evicted from power, those his govern­ment have let off the hook will be­come vic­tims again.

Equally in the un­likely event that Cy­clone Tom re­turns to power, there can be no doubt that his first call of busi­ness will be to blow off those that have now been left off the hook. That surely isn’t what should hap­pen in a proper democ­racy as Jus­tice Makara hinted.

Crooks, thieves and thugs should be pros­e­cuted for their mis­deeds re­gard­less of who they are serv­ing un­der. Law en­force­ment agen­cies should not and must never ap­ply the law se­lec­tively. But above all, judges should never be afraid to jail any­one who has com­mit­ted crime re­gard­less of whom they are.

Let’s take an­other fright­en­ing ex­am­ple. There is that guy who has be­come a law unto him­self. He is the guy in the habit of eject­ing prime min­is­ters from their beds while they are busy screw­ing their con­cu­bines in the wee hours of day and chas­ing them across the bor­ders af­ter sniff­ing that he is go­ing to be fired.

The guy will also not hes­i­tate to moor down any­one who threat­ens his po­si­tion. I am told that all the judges are afraid, very afraid of him. So he rou­tinely ig­nores their court or­ders with im­punity. The guy ba­si­cally does what he wants, any­where at any time. He is a law unto him­self.

We need to do right things right. The ju­di­ciary must be fear­less and pro­fes­sional. We must make en­try into the le­gal pro­fes­sion a bit harder so we have fewer com­pe­tent lawyers. Law en­force­ment agen­cies must be freed from political bondage. We must bor­row a few tenets of harsh jus­tice from Sharia. But above all else, we must have more hon­est men like Makara on the bench.

Ache!!!!

Jus­tice Molefi Makara

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