Court of Ap­peal sit­ting in limbo

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

THE sched­uled sit­ting of the sec­ond ses­sion of the Court of Ap­peal next month hangs in the bal­ance in light of a pend­ing le­gal chal­lenge to the swear­ing-in of Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito as pres­i­dent of the apex court.

Jus­tice Mos­ito was re-ap­pointed as Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane on 1 Au­gust 2017, eight months af­ter he was forced to re­sign to avoid im­peach­ment over tax eva­sion charges by the Pakalitha Mo­sisili-led for­mer govern­ment.

Two weeks af­ter his reap­point­ment, four lawyers lodged a High Court ap­pli­ca­tion chal­leng­ing the va­lid­ity of his ap­point­ment.

The four, At­tor­ney Qhale­hang Let­sika, King’s Coun­sel Karabo Mohau, Motiea Teele and Zwe­lakhe Mda ar­gue in their con­sti­tu­tional ap­pli­ca­tion that Dr Tha­bane did not fol­low due process when he ad­vised His Majesty to re-ap­point Jus­tice Mos­ito.

They also con­tend that the re­moval of his pre­de­ces­sor, Jus­tice Robert Nu­gent, to ac­com­mo­date Jus­tice Mos­ito was il­le­gal.

They also ar­gue that Jus­tice Mos­ito was re-ap­pointed af­ter be­ing im­peached for a pend­ing tax eva­sion case be­fore the High Court.

Their case in sched­uled for hear­ing next month by the High Court in its sit­ting as a Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

The le­gal chal­lenge re­sulted in the halt­ing of Jus­tice Mos­ito’s swear­ing-in as pres­i­dent of the apex court.

Law So­ci­ety of Le­sotho pres­i­dent, At­tor­ney Tu­misang Mosotho, yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times the un­cer­tainty was frus­trat­ing for lawyers who were wor­ried their clients would be de­nied jus­tice by the apex court.

“We are wor­ried about what will hap­pen with our clients’ cases,” he said.

“If the Court of Ap­peal does not sit as ex­pected, it means peo­ple whose cases are pend­ing in that court will wait a long time be­fore know­ing their fate.

“Some peo­ple have crim­i­nal cases pend­ing be­fore the Court of Ap­peal and they want to know if they are right­fully serv­ing their sen­tences in prison or not.”

Atty Mosotho also in­di­cated that the lawyers’ body wrote a let­ter to Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara two weeks ago com­plain­ing about the un­cer­tainty over the sit­ting of the sec­ond ses­sion of the Court of Ap­peal.

“We wrote a let­ter to the chief jus­tice and she told us take up the mat­ter with the prime min­is­ter as the ap­point­ing au­thor­ity of the pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal.

“We found that an­swer very un­sat­is­fac­tory. “We are now left stranded,” he added. The Act­ing Regis­trar of the High Court and Court of Ap­peal, Le­sitsi Mokeke, yes­ter­day ac­knowl­edged the cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the law so­ci­ety and the of­fice of Jus­tice Ma­jara.

Ad­vo­cate Mokeke said the is­sue had al­ready been re­ported to the cabi­net for di­rec­tion.

“I have just talked to the PS (Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Ad­vo­cate Le­bo­hang Mochaba) and she told me that the min­is­ter (of Jus­tice and Hu­man Rights Ma­hali Phamotse) re­ported the mat­ter to the cabi­net yes­ter­day (Tues­day) and the cabi­net will de­lib­er­ate on the mat­ter in its sit­ting next week.

“We will only know a way for­ward af­ter next week’s cabi­net meet­ing,” he said.

The Court of Ap­peal sits in two ses­sions. The first one was held in April this year and the sec­ond ses­sion is nor­mally held in Oc­to­ber.

Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito.

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