Pity the car boot lawyers

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

AS trade and in­dus­try Min­is­ter Bro Josh Setipa was an­nounc­ing the gov­ern­ment’s plans to cur­tail the im­por­ta­tion of sec­ond-hand ve­hi­cles yes­ter­day, i could not help but think of the ubiq­ui­tous mem­bers of our ever pro­lif­er­at­ing le­gal pro­fes­sion.

Scru­ta­tor has re­peat­edly been on record with con­cerns over the in­creas­ing num­bers of “lawyers” in the coun­try and the qual­ity of le­gal ad­vice dished out to un­sus­pect­ing clients by these nu­mer­ous so­lic­i­tors. again i re­peat; throw a stone any­where in Maseru and it is likely to hit a lawyer, not an en­gi­neer, not an it tech­ni­cian, not a med­i­cal doc­tor and def­i­nitely not a rocket sci­en­tist.

this partly ex­plains why we re­main a peren­nial eco­nomic lag­gard with a zero man­u­fac­tur­ing base. if a coun­try can­not pro­duce goods to sell to other coun­tries, it can­not gen­er­ate wealth. that’s a sim­ple rule of eco­nomics. and for a coun­try to pro­duce goods, it re­quires en­gi­neers and sci­en­tists more than lawyers.

My pes­simism of the le­gal pro­fes­sion in le­sotho was a few years back but­tressed by none other than for­mer act­ing Chief Jus­tice tšeliso Mon­a­p­athi who, while open­ing the le­gal year, con­demned the high num­ber of du­bi­ous lawyers who op­er­ate their “law firms” from the boots of their sec­ond­hand Ja­panese car im­ports.

that must in­deed hit a raw nerve. But the learned judge was just telling the truth. there are just too many peo­ple who call them­selves lawyers in le­sotho op­er­at­ing not only from their brief­cases, from un­der gumtrees and from the boots of di­lap­i­dated sec­ond-hand cars, but also from Hot­mail, Ya­hoo and Gmail ac­counts. in fact, we now have more lawyers than teach­ers, nurses, agri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers and sheep and goat herders com­bined.

When­ever i am bored and want to laugh my lungs out, i of­ten search for any lawyer’s let­ter send to my Ed­i­tor. Be­cause of my brazen and hot headed com­men­taries, i of­ten re­ceive let­ters from lawyers threat­en­ing to sue on be­half of their ag­grieved clients. But these let­ters are so poorly writ­ten in bro­ken Sothonglish that i won­der what else is hap­pen­ing in the once ven­er­a­ble le­gal pro­fes­sion.

the high­point of le­gal lu­nacy of course was when a lawyer wrote on be­half of a client who was not men­tioned in my col­umn but was con­tacted for a com­ment by one of my col­leagues in the news­room who was work­ing on a news story. ap­par­ently, the story was not pub­lished in the end. But the per­son who was con­tacted for com­ment was so in­censed that she had been ap­proached by the re­porter and opted to sue for defama­tion even though the ac­tual story and al­le­ga­tions over which she had been con­tacted for com­ment were never pub­lished in the news­pa­per.

What wor­ried me was not so much the mad­ness of the woman in ques­tion, but the lawyer who ad­vised her that she could sue over a story that was in fact not pub­lished. How can any self-re­spect­ing lawyer is­sue such hog­wash le­gal ad­vice? Defama­tion per­tains to pub­lished and well cir­cu­lated al­le­ga­tions, which are wrong and ma­li­cious. the law of defama­tion can cer­tainly not just ap­ply to a tele­phone call to get a com­ment for a story that ends up not be­ing pub­lished. But strange things do hap­pen in our King­dom.

I find it hard to fathom how any self-re­spect­ing lawyers can fail to set up a M1500 server from which to dis­patch branded mails and opt to op­er­ate from Hot­mail and Ya­hoo servers?

Iwas once threat­ened by a very fa­mous ad­vo­cate and de­cided to visit him at his of­fices to con­front him head on. Only to find the lawyer op­er­at­ing in an of­fice which re­sem­bled a pit la­trine. i turned away with­out say­ing a word and elected not to be both­ered by what that lawyer had said.

Jus­tice Mon­a­p­athi’s con­tempt of a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of du­bi­ous lawyers in Le­sotho is jus­ti­fied be­cause some of them don’t take them­selves se­ri­ously.

of course, then law So­ci­ety Pres­i­dent, ad­vo­cate Mon­a­heng Rasekoai, begged to dif­fer with Jus­tice Mon­a­p­athi. i think the young hand­some Rasekoai was just do­ing what he was paid to do. But he was es­sen­tially de­fend­ing the in­de­fen­si­ble. For­tu­nately for him, Rasekoai is him­self a very vi­brant, in­tel­li­gent and com­pe­tent lawyer with a very promis­ing fu­ture. He cer­tainly can­not be cat­e­gorised as a “car boot lawyer”. How­ever, i could not agree with his de­fence of the rest of “car boot lawyers” as aptly de­scribed by Jus­tice Mon­a­p­athi.

With Bro Setipa now hell bent on curb­ing the im­por­ta­tion sec­ond and third-hand cars, i won­dered what would now hap­pen to the in­creas­ing num­ber of lawyers who need car boots for of­fices.

Per­haps with no more car boots from which to op­er­ate of­fices, the in­creas­ing num­bers of lawyers will be cur­tailed. We will then have fewer lawyers and qual­ity le­gal ad­vice. My heart sank when i heard that a for­mer friend of mine, a well-known crook, who once bor­rowed R4000 from my col­league be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing had, in fact joined the le­gal pro­fes­sion. i, in fact read him be­ing cited as a lawyer in a high pro­file crim­i­nal case. I then said God please help this le­gal pro­fes­sion in the King­dom.

there are other even more poignant rea­sons why i will sup­port Bro Josh’s ban on im­por­ta­tion of un­road­wor­thy ve­hi­cles. le­sotho, Swazi­land, Mozam­bique, Zim­babwe have be­come the main dump­ing grounds of these Ja­panese relics.

This has vir­tu­ally stopped in­no­va­tion in these coun­tries. it will be un­der­stand­able if it were only Zim­babwe im­port­ing the ve­hi­cles. ap­par­ently that coun­try’s eco­nomic col­lapse – thanks to Robert Mu­gabe’s eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal thug­gery – has be­come so bad that ru­mours sug­gest that some men in that coun­try now re­cy­cle con­doms. it then makes sense if it were the only mar­ket for the relics.

South africa, the cen­tre of re­gional in­no­va­tion, has never al­lowed Ja­panese car im­ports. While at one stage you could order your Ja­panese relic from tokyo and pick it up in Dur­ban and drive it to le­sotho, the South africans banned that al­to­gether and they no longer al­low these cars to set wheels on their tarred roads. So ev­ery Ja­panese car im­port must be car­ried on a lorry.

i say ku­dos to South africa for im­ple­ment­ing that tough mea­sure. i only wish Bro Josh had gone far and banned these Ja­panese car im­ports al­to­gether, in­stead of only al­low­ing those cars with cer­tifi­cate of road­wor­thi­ness from the coun­try of ori­gin.

What pains me is that the cars im­ported into le­sotho would have been dumped at rub­bish dumps by the Ja­panese. in­stead of be­ing re­cy­cled as scrap metal in that coun­try, some in­no­va­tive en­trepreneurs saw an op­por­tu­nity to make money by col­lect­ing these ve­hi­cles from the rub­bish dumps and sell­ing them to africans.

Don­ald trump, the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for the ven­er­a­ble of­fice of Pres­i­dent of the United States, stirred a hor­net’s nest when he ac­cused Mex­ico of send­ing its worst peo­ple - rapists, mur­der­ers and drug lords across the bor­der into the USA.

Scru­ta­tor dares to ac­cuse Ja­panese of send­ing their worst scrap metal mas­querad­ing as cars into le­sotho. this has killed in­no­va­tion here.

With­out these im­ports, we would face the spec­tre of very ex­pen­sive ve­hi­cles from Sa. that could be the only way to force in­no­va­tion and get Ba­sotho to es­tab­lish car man­u­fac­tur­ing plants here. in­vent­ing our own car might be too am­bi­tious. But we can at least match South africa by hav­ing a few car as­sem­bly plants to sat­isfy lo­cal needs and for ex­port. Does it make sense that our neigh­bour, has sev­eral car as­sem­bly plants and we don’t have a sin­gle one. i cer­tainly take no pride in hav­ing our roads filled with de­crepit sec­ond-hand cars from an­other coun­try.

to ex­press my in­dig­na­tion and dis­gust, i have de­cided to park my Fer­rari at home. af­ter all, how can i move it in our roads con­gested with all the Ja­panese sec­ond to fourth hand cars. Not to men­tion the car­bon monox­ide fumes that get me chok­ing.

So thank you Bro Josh for this move. Next time round, i ex­pect you to em­u­late South africa and im­pose a per­ma­nent ban on these im­ports al­to­gether. that will in­evitably spur more in­no­va­tion.

in an­nounc­ing the move to curb the car im­ports Bro Josh said;

“the most im­por­tant thing i must em­pha­sise is that we are not try­ing to in­hibit Ba­sotho from get­ting im­ported ve­hi­cles, but to save the lives of our peo­ple from need­less ac­ci­dents. the fact of the mat­ter is that le­sotho has been turned into dump­ing site for ve­hi­cles that are not road­wor­thy and that must come to an end.

“Ev­ery Mosotho has the right to be as­sisted to buy a ve­hi­cle, and as the gov­ern­ment, we have no in­ten­tion of pro­hibit­ing that. What we are against is the sale of some of these ve­hi­cles for as lit­tle as US$900 which have been on the road for 24 years and not road wor­thy in their coun­tries of ori­gin.”

Bro Josh promised that no new re­quire­ments would be im­posed on sec­ond-hand ve­hi­cles that were al­ready in the coun­try.

the prob­lem with that of course is that there are just too many of these un­road­wor­thy ve­hi­cles in the coun­try al­ready. Un­less these are banned, we will con­tinue to have too much con­ges­tion on our roads, too many road ac­ci­dents and of course, too many “lawyers”. i will also keep my Fer­rari in the garage, mean­ing many chil­dren will die with­out ever see­ing one. that’s a bad thing Bro Josh.

Scru­ta­tor’s at­ten­tion was this week drawn to the un­re­lent­ing cases of rape in our beloved Moun­tain King­dom; as if the prob­lems we are al­ready grap­pling with are not enough. the po­lice have ex­pressed con­cern over the cases of sex­ual abuse which Se­nior in­spec­tor ler­ato Mot­seki said were in­creas­ing “at an alarm­ing rate” and in­volv­ing both women and ju­ve­niles coun­try­wide.

to say cases of sex­ual as­sault have reached epi­demic pro­por­tions would not be an over­state­ment since many women and girls now liv­ing in fear, and with their right to free­dom of move­ment cur­tailed.

the preda­tors are get­ting more brazen and younger by the day, with one rapist re­ported by the Le­sotho Times in Fe­bru­ary this year be­ing as young as 13-years old. More dis­turbingly is the con­tin­u­ing trend of grown men tar­get­ing tod­dlers. the Le­sotho Times re­ported last week that a Qacha’s Nek man was fac­ing charges of rap­ing a three-year old af­ter way­lay­ing her by promis­ing sweets. Early this year, a 29-year-old Mohale’s Hoek man raped a 13-yearold girl on sev­eral oc­ca­sions and im­preg­nated her. the abuse be­gan in oc­to­ber 2015 and only came to light af­ter the girl’s grand­mother re­alised she was preg­nant.

an­other scum­bag from tha­bana-morena claimed that he was pos­sessed by evil spir­its while rap­ing a 10-year old girl. tsepo Mothokho had found the mi­nor alone and asked for some water be­fore stran­gling the hap­less girl. thank­fully, the Mafeteng Mag­is­trate’s Court did not buy the hog­wash that he was pos­sessed by an evil spirit and sen­tenced Mothokho to 15 years where, hope­fully, he will now be on the re­ceiv­ing end of his abuse be­cause Scru­ta­tor hears that rapists are the most frowned upon in­mates.

As a full-fig­ured and frankly well-en­dowed Mosotho woman, Scru­ta­tor can­not — for the life of me — un­der­stand how a grown man can find plea­sure in mo­lest­ing a tod­dler. there are so many sin­gle women ready and will­ing to en­gage in con­sen­sual and pro­tected sex out there, yet some men opt to abuse chil­dren.

While i may not agree with most of the ideas of is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ists, i wouldn’t mind if these mo­lesters were cas­trated as dic­tated by the Sharia law. that may be the only way to de­ter these preda­tors who are wreak­ing havoc in our com­mu­ni­ties.

as a fem­i­nist, Scru­ta­tor has de­cided to take the cue of out­spo­ken Zim­bab­wean Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment thabitha Khu­malo who chal­lenged men who are rap­ing mi­nors to try her if they were man enough.

“i am invit­ing those men who are rap­ing mi­nors to go and look for peo­ple like us, we are wait­ing for them. We want to see them, if you are man enough, i am woman enough,” she said dur­ing a par­lia­men­tary ses­sion.

“So, why rape a mi­nor? there is avail­abil­ity of the com­mod­ity all over the show, all what you do is, you must meet the re­quire­ments. that is why you are run­ning away from us go­ing to the mi­nors be­cause they do not know what to ex­pect. i know what i am sup­posed to ex­pect so, come we are wait­ing for you. We want you, all men, you are all in­vited. Stop rap­ing mi­nors.”

Khu­malo also said women had the pass­port to plea­sure but they needed to is­sue visas. that must be re­spected.

She summed it all by quot­ing from the bi­ble: “Do not abuse us. Mathew 7:7 is very clear, ask and yee shall be given.” amen to that. Ache!!!

min­is­ter of trade and In­dus­try Joshua Setipa.


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