THA­BANE PLOTS CHIEF JUS­TICE’S RE­MOVAL

PM to ad­vise the King to sus­pend Jus­tice Ma­jara Tri­bunal to be ap­pointed to in­ves­ti­gate mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane is set to ad­vise His Majesty King Let­sie III to sus­pend Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara over a li­tany of mis­con­duct charges that in­clude the fail­ure to en­sure the timeous de­liv­ery of jus­tice as well as her con­tro­ver­sial M27 000 per month hous­ing deal which is way above the au­tho­rised limit.

Dr Tha­bane’s de­ci­sion is con­tained in a let­ter he wrote to Jus­tice Ma­jara re­quest­ing her to ‘show cause’ why she should not be im­peached over the al­leged mis­con­duct.

The Sun­day Ex­press has also learnt that the em­bat­tled chief jus­tice va­cated her con­tro­ver­sial M27 000 per month rented res­i­dence in the Hillsview sub­urb in Maseru and moved to a cheaper M4000 house in Maseru West, two days after be­ing served with Dr Tha­bane’s let­ter to ‘show cause’ why she should not be im­peached.

“I have no doubt that Your Lady­ship will agree with me that the al­le­ga­tions war­rant an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and if proven, your re­moval in terms of sec­tion 121 (5) of the con­sti­tu­tion,” Dr Tha­bane stated after out­lin­ing eight charges against the chief jus­tice.

“I there­fore in­tend to rep­re­sent to the King that the ques­tion of re­mov­ing the Chief Jus­tice un­der this sec­tion ought to be in­ves­ti­gated on the bases of fore­go­ing al­le­ga­tions.

“In terms of sec­tion 121 (6) of the con­sti­tu­tion, I in­tend to go fur­ther and to se­lect the mem­bers of the tri­bunal as well as to ad­vise the King to sus­pend the Chief Jus­tice from the ex­er­cise of the func­tions of her of­fice pend­ing fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions as con­tem­plated by sec­tion 121 (7) of the con­sti­tu­tion.”

A copy of the let­ter which is dated 27 April 2018 and seen by the Sun­day Ex­press in­vites Jus­tice Ma­jara to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions show­ing why she should not be re­moved from of­fice on the ba­sis of eight counts of mis­con­duct.

On the first charge, the chief jus­tice is ac­cused of fail­ing to pre­side over con­tested mat­ters for a pe­riod of two years. She is ac­cused of play­ing a rel­a­tively lim­ited ju­di­cial role de­spite the huge back­log of cases at the High Court. Some se­nior ju­di­cial of­fi­cials have said that the back­log of cases is as high as 4000.

Dr Tha­bane said that Jus­tice Ma­jara had failed to dis­charge her man­date de­spite be­ing a sit­ting judge of the High Court and its ad­min­is­tra­tive head who should also hear and de­ter­mine the dis­putes pre­sented by the lit­i­gants.

“Notwith­stand­ing your obli­ga­tion as a sit­ting judge of the High Court and as its ad­min­is­tra­tive head to hear and de­ter­mine the dis­putes pre­sented by lit­i­gants, you have not presided over con­tested mat­ters for a pe­riod of two years now and you have lim­ited your ju­di­cial func­tions in court de­spite the back­log of cases be­fore the High Court.

“Notwith­stand­ing your obli­ga­tion as the ad­min­is­tra­tive head of the High Court and in your ca­pac­ity as the chair­man of the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (JSC), you have omit­ted to take nec­es­sary dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against puisne (ju­nior) judges who fail to de­liver judg­ment timeously and thereby com­pro­mis­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice in this juris­dic­tion and putting the High Court into dis­re­pute.”

Dr Tha­bane also ac­cused the chief jus­tice of fail­ing to present writ­ten judge­ments in 2017.

In an­other charge, Jus­tice Ma­jara is ac­cused of en­gag­ing in a ver­bal spat with the Min­is­ter of Law, Le­bo­hang Hlaele in her of­fi­cial speech at the open­ing of the High Court ses­sion in Feb­ru­ary this year.

At the time, Jus­tice Ma­jara re­vealed that she was con­tem­plat­ing le­gal ac­tion against Mr Hlaele who pub­licly ac­cused her of cor­rup­tion in con­nec­tion with the M27 0000 hous­ing rent deal in De­cem­ber last year.

Jus­tice Ma­jara de­scribed Mr Hlaele’s com­ments as part of the “in­creas­ing bla­tant and brazen at­tacks of the courts and the of­fice of the Chief Jus­tice”.

She fur­ther warned the na­tion and es­pe­cially mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive against at­tack­ing the ju­di­ciary, say­ing this not only un­der­mined the prin­ci­ple of sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers, but also placed the lives of ju­di­cial of­fi­cers in dan­ger.

Mr Hlaele at­tacked the Chief Jus­tice when he ad­dressed scores of Ba­sotho who had staged a protest march to de­mand the swear­ing-in of Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito as Court of Ap­peal Presi- dent on 9 De­cem­ber 2017.

Ad­dress­ing the pro­tes­tors, Mr Hlaele took a swipe at Jus­tice Ma­jara say­ing she had to ei­ther re­sign or face an im­peach­ment tri­bunal for cor­rup­tion over the rental deal.

“The only ad­vice that I have for her is to go,” Mr Hlaele said.

“She should re­sign. Oth­er­wise, she will be put be­fore a tri­bunal to face harsh pun­ish­ment for steal­ing peo­ple’s money. It is a pun­ish­ment be­fit­ting her ac­tions be­cause she has called it upon her­self.”

And Dr Tha­bane said Jus­tice Ma­jara’s state­ments had “put the en­tire ju­di­ciary into dis­re­pute by stag­ing a ver­bal spat with a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive (Mr Hlaele), who is His Majesty’s ap­pointee…thereby putting the ju­di­ciary into dis­re­pute.

The premier fur­ther ac­cused the chief jus­tice of en­gag­ing pri­vate le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers to rep­re­sent her and JSC with­out the ex­press per­mis­sion of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral con­trary to the con­sti­tu­tion and the of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral Act 1994.

Dr Tha­bane also al­leged that Jus­tice Ma­jara had un­der­taken sev­eral “unche­quered in­ter­na­tional travel trips at the huge and bur­den­some cost to the ju­di­ciary and (you) com­pletely ne­glected your obli­ga­tions as sit­ting judge, of hear­ing both con­tested and un­con­tested mat­ters”.

The chief jus­tice is also ac­cused of fail­ing to defini­tively deal with the is­sue of sus­pen­sion of the Regis­trar of the High Court since her ap­point­ment as the chief jus­tice in 2014.

In Jan­u­ary this year, the-then Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Ma­hali Phamotse, gave Jus­tice Ma­jara up to the end of that month to re­solve the is­sue of the sus­pended Regis­tra­tor of the High Court, ‘Mathato Sekoai, say­ing the long-drawn out saga had re­sulted in an “in­jus­tice against the poor­est of the poor” tax­pay­ers who are bur­dened with pay­ing two peo­ple for the same po­si­tion in­clud­ing an act­ing regis­trar.

Ms Sekoai was sus­pended from her po­si­tion as Regis­trar of the High Court and Ap­peal Court of Le­sotho in Feb­ru­ary 2012 by the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (JSC) on al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion, ar­ro­gance and dis­re­spect­ing High Court judges.

She was not re­in­stated to her po­si­tion de­spite be­ing ab­solved of the cor­rup­tion claims by the Di­rec­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences who wrote to her say­ing the al­le­ga­tions against her could not be sub­stan­ti­ated.

Ad­vo­cate Le­sitsi Mokeke was sub­se­quently ap­pointed Act­ing Regis­trar- a de­vel­op­ment which led to the cur­rent sce­nario where tax­pay­ers have to foot the bill of pay­ing two of­fi­cials for the same po­si­tion since Ms Sekoai re­mains on the gov­ern­ment pay­roll.

An­other charge per­tains to Jus­tice Ma­jara’s con­tro­ver­sial deal to rent a house for M27 000 per month from a col­league Jus­tice Te­boho Moiloa. The amount is way above the M4000 statu­tory al­lo­ca­tion for her hous­ing al­lowance.

“Notwith­stand­ing your obli­ga­tion as the ad­min­is­tra­tive head of the high court and in your ca­pac­ity as the chair­man of the ju­di­cial ser­vice com­mis­sion, you have been in­dif­fer­ent to the al­le­ga­tions of your mis­con­duct over the leas­ing of your of­fi­cial res­i­den­tial home from your puisne judge.

“You have not fa­cil­i­tated an in­quiry into the mat­ter hith­erto, thereby com­pro­mis­ing the in­tegrity of the ju­di­cial ser­vice com­mis­sion by fail­ing to re­cuse your­self from the JSC and al­low­ing for the in­quiry over al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct on your part and or that of the puisne judge whose house you rented.

“I there­fore do hereby, re­spec­tively af­ford Your Lady­ship this op­por­tu­nity to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions con­cern­ing the fore­go­ing state of af­fairs and why I should not rep­re­sent to the King that the ques­tion of re­mov­ing the Chief Jus­tice un­der this sec­tion ought to be in­ves­ti­gated on the ba­sis of the fore­go­ing al­le­ga­tions as well as the sus­pen­sion of the Chief Jus­tice pend­ing fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“Take notice that the rep­re­sen­ta­tions should reach me within seven days of your re­ceipt hereof,” Dr Tha­bane stated.

Mean­while, sources privy to this mat­ter told the pa­per that Jus­tice Ma­jara va­cated the house of Jus­tice Moiloa last Mon­day.

When the Sun­day Ex­press vis­ited the Hillsview home of Jus­tice Moiloa, there were work­ers who said they were en­gaged to ren­o­vate the lux­u­ri­ous house after the Chief Jus­tice va­cated it on Mon­day.

“There is no one here. I mean no one is oc­cu­py­ing this prop­erty. The per­son (Jus­tice Ma­jara) you are look­ing for has va­cated this house and we were en­gaged by the owner to ren­o­vate it as you can see,” one of the work­ers said.

He said he was not aware of the ex­act day the chief jus­tice and her fam­ily va­cated the prop­erty as they only started ren­o­va­tions to­wards the end of last week.

How­ever, well-placed sources told this pa­per that the Chief Jus­tice va­cated the prop­erty on Mon­day.

“On Mon­day, the chief jus­tice packed and moved out of the M27 000 rented house to a M4000 rented house in Maseru West,” a source said.

Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara

CHIEF Jus­tice’s house in Hill View. CHIEF Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara.

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