Mos­ito tax charges dropped

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Tefo Tefo

THE gov­ern­ment has with­drawn a vi­o­la­tion of tax laws case against the re-ap­pointed Court of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito in what could be an at­tempt to di­lute a court case chal­leng­ing his re-ap­point­ment.

Speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence on Tues­day, the Min­is­ter of Law, Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs and Hu­man Rights, Mr Le­bo­hang Hlaele con­firmed that a de­ci­sion had been made to with­draw the tax eva­sion case.

Mr Hlaele also briefed Jour­nal­ists about his min­istry’s man­date and cur­rent af­fairs.

Jus­tice Mos­ito was re-ap­pointed to the top sit of the ju­di­ciary early last month after he pre­vi­ously left the post un­der con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances that in­cluded his res­ig­na­tion and an im­peach­ment.

Mr Hlaele said he was in­formed by the Act­ing Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion (DPP) Ad­vo­cate Hlale­fang Motinyane that she had de­cided to with­draw a case in which Jus­tice Mos­ito is charged with fail­ing to file some tax re­turns to the Le­sotho Rev­enue Author­ity (LRA).

Ad­vo­cate Motinyane was ap­pointed act­ing DPP on Mon­day fol­low­ing a leave pend­ing re­tire­ment for King’s Coun­sel Le­aba Thet­sane, who is the sub­stan­tive DPP.

Ad­vo­cate Thet­sane went on leave for 30 days start­ing from 5 Oc­to­ber 2017, with the gov­ern­ment in­tend­ing to buy-out the re­main­ing pe­riod from the lapse of his leave to July 2018, when he will be re­tir­ing from the ser­vice.

Since it is now clear that Ad­vo­cate Thet­sane will no longer be in of­fice, Ad­vo­cate Motinyane was on Mon­day ap­pointed by the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (PSC) as the Act­ing DPP.

“This morn­ing Ad­vo­cate Motinyane told me she looked at five files in the of­fice with­out be­ing pros­e­cuted.

“Among those files was the one about the crim­i­nal charges against Ntate Mos­ito. She told me she has al­ready de­cided to with­draw such crim­i­nal charges against him be­cause she con­sid­ered they had no strong case against him.

“It is the case in­volv­ing his tax charges,” he said.

He added: “Pro­fes­sor Mos­ito was ap­pointed on 20 Jan­uary 2015, as pres­i­dent and the past regime kicked him out on the ba­sis of that case. He re­signed after re­al­iz­ing that he was be­ing po­lit­i­cally per­se­cuted.

“How­ever, he was re-ap­pointed and some in­di­vid­u­als chal­lenged the ap­point­ment on the ba­sis that they were aware of that file, and he was not sworn in. How can we stand on the court’s way when the courts say they can’t swear him in?”

He dis­tanced him­self from the de­ci­sion to with­draw a case against Jus­tice Mos­ito, say­ing it was the de­ci­sion made by the Act­ing DPP.

The with­drawal of the case against Jus­tice Mos­ito also co­in­cides with the agree­ment be­tween his lawyers and the of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral to quash the find­ings of the tri­bunal that in­ves­ti­gated him and ad­vised King Let­sie III to re­move Jus­tice Mos­ito from the apex court’s pres­i­dency last year.

Lawyers from both sides on Fri­day last week pre­pared a deed of set­tle­ment in the mat­ter in which they agreed to re­move some of the find­ings of the tri­bunal.

But, the High Court act­ing judge Jus­tice Keketso Moahloli di­rected the lawyers to pre­pare their sub­mis­sions to ad­dress him so that he could make a de­ci­sion whether to en­dorse that agree­ment as an or­der of court or not. The mat­ter is still pend­ing.

The two co­in­cid­ing is­sues – with­drawal of the charges and the in­tent to sign an agree­ment to quash the tri­bunal find­ings – is a move to weaken a pend­ing case be­fore the Con­sti­tu­tional Court in which four top lawyers are chal­leng­ing re-ap­point­ment of Jus­tice Mos­ito, ac­cord­ing to one of the lawyers who wished to re­main anony­mous.

Four prom­i­nent lawyers, King’s Coun­sel Zwe­lakhe Mda, Karabo Mo­hau, Motiea Teele and At­tor­ney Qhale­hang Let­sika have since chal­lenged the re-ap­point­ment of Jus­tice Mos­ito as pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal. The case is yet to be heard. Jus­tice Mos­ito was charged with a tax of­fence of al­legedly not sub­mit­ting his in­come tax re­turns to LRA since 1996 to 2013.

The charge was pre­ferred by the out­go­ing DPP Ad­vo­cate Le­aba Thet­sane KC after he was first ap­pointed as the pres­i­dent of the apex court.

A tri­bunal was es­tab­lished by for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s gov­ern­ment to in­ves­ti­gate the charge against Jus­tice Mos­ito with the sole pur­pose to re­move him from the seat.

The said tri­bunal re­leased its re­port to King Let­sie III and it rec­om­mended that Jus­tice Mos­ito should be re­moved from the pres­i­dency of the Court of Ap­peal be­cause he was not fit to hold the po­si­tion.

How­ever, Jus­tice Mos­ito re­signed be­fore the re­port could be sub­mit­ted, cit­ing he was be­ing per­se­cuted by the then gov­ern­ment.

While the tax charges were still hang­ing on his head, he lodged a court ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the Con­sti­tu­tional Court chal­leng­ing the le­gal­ity of the charges. He lost the case both in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court and the Court of Ap­peal, with the Court of Ap­peal rul­ing the DPP had a right to in­sti­tute such charges.

JUS­TICE Kananelo Mos­ito.

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