Pity the car boot lawyers
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.