GOVT WANTS CHIEF JUS­TICE OUT

Jus­tice Ma­jara ac­cused of cor­rup­tion, po­lit­i­cal bias High Court act­ing regis­trar also un­der fire over Jus­tice Mos­ito

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE gov­ern­ment has told Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara to ei­ther re­sign or face an im­peach­ment tri­bunal for al­leged cor­rup­tion over her con­tro­ver­sial M27 000 per month house rental deal.

So out of favour is Jus­tice Ma­jara that the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane has now branded her an “in­com­pe­tent” who stood no chance in her bid to rep­re­sent Le­sotho at the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC).

The pique to­wards Jus­tice Ma­jara by the gov­ern­ment and its sup­port­ers was laid bare last Satur­day dur­ing a protest march in Maseru by scores of Ba­sotho de­mand­ing the swear­ing-in of Jus­tice Kananelo Mos­ito as Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent.

Jus­tice Mos­ito was re-ap­pointed as Court of Ap­peal pres­i­dent by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane on 1 Au­gust 2017, al­most a year af­ter he had been forced to re­sign to avoid im­peach­ment over tax eva­sion charges by the then Pakalitha Mo­sisili led coalition 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 es­sen­tially al­lege that Judge Mos­ito is un­fit to head the top court. Judg­ment on the case will be made next Fe­bru­ary

The pro­test­ers, who in­cluded le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers and or­di­nary Ba­sotho, de­liv­ered their pe­ti­tion to Law, Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs and Hu­man Rights Min­is­ter Le­bo­hang Hlaele and other se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

In the pe­ti­tion, they ac­cuse Jus­tice Ma­jara of col­lab­o­rat­ing with the four lawyers in ef­forts to frus­trate Jus­tice Mos­ito’s swear­ing-in.

They ar­gue that the four lawyers had not ap­plied for an in­terim or­der to stay the swear­ing-in, yet Jus­tice Ma­jara went on to ad­vise Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane against the swear­ing in.

Jus­tice Ma­jara is “hell bent in grant­ing stay through the back door to the four lawyers who did not even ask for it”, the pe­ti­tion­ers charged.

They also claim that she is part of a team that in­cludes out­go­ing Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions Le­aba Thet­sane, for­mer at­tor­ney-gen­eral Tšokolo Makhethe and “some” High court judges which wants to “cap­ture the en­tire ju­di­ciary for their per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal bat­tles”.

The pe­ti­tion­ers gave Dr Tha­bane seven days, from last Satur­day, to or­der Jus­tice Ma­jara to swear-in Jus­tice Mos­ito “fail­ing which she must be sus­pended pend­ing im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings against her”.

Mr Hlaele pulled no punches when ad­dress­ing the pro­tes­tors, say­ing Jus­tice Ma­jara ei­ther had to re­sign or face an im­peach­ment tri­bunal for cor­rup­tion over a con­tro­ver­sial M27 000 per month rental deal.

Jus­tice Ma­jara has come un­der crit­i­cism for mov­ing into a house be­long­ing to Jus­tice Te­boho Moiloa, rented to her by her fel­low High Court judge.

The High Court has been ac­cused of flout­ing procurement reg­u­la­tions and con­flict of in­ter­est reg­u­la­tions since the house be­longs to the chief jus­tice’s col­league.

Since the chief jus­tice is en­ti­tled to only M4 000 hous­ing al­lowance, the M27 000 be­ing paid for the house is al­most seven times more than her legally al­low­able limit.

An au­dit re­port on the ju­di­ciary by the Min­istry of Fi­nance’s in­ter­nal au­dit divi­sion has rec­om­mended a re­view of Jus­tice Ma­jara’s rental deal.

The re­port di­rected the High Court Regis­trar, who is its chief ac­count­ing of­fi­cer, to get the equiv­a­lent monthly re­im­burse­ment of M23 000 that was be­ing paid on the house by the ju­di­ciary from Jus­tice Ma­jara.

How­ever, it re­mains un­clear if this has been done. In ad­di­tion to the au­dit re­port, Jus­tice Ma­jara has also been ac­cused of ap­point­ing Jus­tice Moiloa to act in her po­si­tion when she was away on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, even though there were other more se­nior judges.

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

“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.”

The min­is­ter said when Jus­tice Ma­jara ap­proached the gov­ern­ment seek­ing sup­port for her bid to rep­re­sent Le­sotho at the ICC, they played along even though they knew “she had no chance”.

Lo­cated in The Hague, Nether­lands, the ICC is the court of last re­sort for the pros­e­cu­tion of geno­cide, war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity. It was founded on an in­ter­na­tional treaty, the Rome Statute, which came into ef­fect on 1 July 2002.

“When she ap­proached us, we looked at one an­other and sup­ported her bid half­heart­edly be­cause we knew we had noth­ing to lose,” he said.

“We al­ready knew that she would not make it be­cause she is very in­com­pe­tent. Her mind is more fo­cused on cor­rup­tion than serv­ing the peo­ple.”

Mr Hlaele added: “She only got 37 points and the win­ning can­di­date got all 88 points be­cause she was not up to scratch. This was God’s re­sponse to the hurts and pains she has caused to the peo­ple.”

The min­is­ter also took aim at High Court Act­ing Regis­trar Le­sitsi Mokeke for “sab­o­tag­ing” Jus­tice Mos­ito’s swear­ing-in by lob­by­ing judges against it.

“We have heard that Mokeke was hav­ing sleep­less nights run­ning around lob­by­ing judges not to sup­port the swear­ing-in of Pro­fes­sor Mos­ito. I just won­der what lies he was telling his wife for not sleep­ing at home. The good thing about him is that he is merely act­ing,” Mr Hlaele added.

The min­istry’s Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, ’Mole Khu­malo, yes­ter­day told this pub­li­ca­tion that they were yet to make a move against Jus­tice Ma­jara. Ef­forts to con­tact Jus­tice Ma­jara this week were fruit­less.

For his part, Mr Mokeke said he was out of the coun­try and could not com­ment.

CHIEF Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara

Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara.

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