Let’s spank the judges

Let’s spank the judges

JUSTICE Thamsanqa Nomncongo must sit on his cozy chair in his aerated chambers and read this very slowly because Muckraker will never say this again. Henceforth, it will be combat. Yeh, you heard that right.
Utter the predictable mumbo jumbo about contempt of court. Fume on his behalf and pee on Muckraker’s name. Spit at the mention of Muckraker’s name.

Strip to your briefs and gallop down the streets. The choice is yours: to wear or carry the blanket. Muckraker doesn’t give a rat’s. . .
At some point someone has to tell those wig donning men and women on that bench to stop their monkeyshines. Muckraker had resorted to writing because she suspects that those shabby wigs are blocking their ears.

How else can we explain how they have defiantly insisted on pushing the frontiers of mediocrity in the face of damning condemnation of their lackluster approach to their work?

The locksmith who made their locks to their ears must be cursed wherever he is.
Judges have to be told that they are not masters but servants of the people. They should be reminded that they work for the people and not the other way round.

For years we have watched the lot on the bench playing poker with our justice system. And when some people tried to call them to order they screamed murder.

They waffled endlessly about the separation of powers (itself a fantastic principle if not used to justify fantastic laziness by those whose independence it seeks to protect).
Judicial independence is sacrosanct, they said. That tomfoolery ends today.
Today is the day because there might be no other day to say these words with the same vigour and vim.
There are enough pegs and a long line to hang every judge on the bench with their ears. Twenty-two ears are the target but for the sake of time we will just hoist Justice Nomncongo’s two ears to illustrate the point.
That does not mean the other judges have been spared. Muckraker will spank them one at a time for they too have their own shenanigans.
In time they will all be vigorously scratching their bums.

Somewhere in Justice Nomncongo’s chambers is a file bearing the name Lebohang ‘Mei. It is possible that the judge has forgotten about ‘Mei because he doesn’t wear any political cloak. Men like him have never mattered to our judicial system.
They are little irritants judges have never allowed to interfere with their good living.

They are viewed as village bumpkins who commit crimes and expect the courts to kiss and cuddle them.
We see this contempt in the way their cases are treated at the so-called Palace of Justice. We are used to the haughtiness that pervades the bench. ‘Mei’s file is probably stuck somewhere under a pile of files containing what are dubiously branded as ‘big cases’.

Since 2013 the judge had been sitting on ‘Mei’s case without justification.
His bum is not itching from sitting on such a stinking case.
What ‘Mei wanted was for the judge to merely review his conviction by the Magistrate’s Court. The judge heard the case, reserved judgement and forgot about the case.

And so the years dragged on while ‘Mei rotted in jail while hoping that the judge will remember him.
Meanwhile the judge perambulated the streets and slept like a baby at night. In the end ‘Mei finished his eight-year sentence and returned to his home where he found his family broken, business collapsed and house reduced to rubble.

Still the judge did not flinch in his resolve to ignore his case. Every day he would clamber that ML to be chauffeur-driven to the office. He said he was working and the government, believing that he was indeed breaking sweat, paid his salary religiously.
Not a day did the judge miss enjoying the trappings of his office.

In our emotion it is tempting to pull a middle finger at the judge. We should because such behavior calls for such a reaction. We are allowed to be disgusted. Yet we should not stoop to that level because that will not help us one bit.

Instead we should spank the judge with a long cat-o’-nine-tails and tell him that the Palace of Justice is not a crèche. The High Court is not like those Indian-run bare-bone schools sprouting around Maseru like squatter camps. There has to be order.
And so we are spanking the judge for his sins. He neglected his duty to ‘Mei and justice. It’s not as if he had no options. He could have passed on the case to another judge if he found it too complicated for his legal mind.

He could have cooked up any excuse to avoid the case. But the judge willingly took the case, heard the arguments and promised to make a ruling.
Muckraker would understand if the matter had been bogged down by some bureaucratic goblins at the court. That happens every time.
Files disappear, witnesses don’t show up, judges get sick and lawyers simply double-book clients’ cases. We will deal with that bunkum later this year.
For now we are talking about a judge who simply slept on the job and a man who had to rot in jail. Ooohh shame! Where does the whole bench and the chief justice begin to hide when confronted with such disgusting indolence?

Will they blame this flimflam on the lack of resources as they are wont to do? Do they say they are overworked and underpaid?
For a week Muckraker has been cracking her head to come up with a viable excuse the judge might give to explain away this tosh. It is with a huge dose of regret and a dash of satisfaction that she announces that she had found no point that might help the judge.
She has searched in law, politics, history, psychology and philosophy but has found none that might shine some favourable light on the judge.
What happened to ‘Mei borders on criminality.

Many moons ago Muckraker unleashed a sjambok on Justice Monaphathi over a similar issue. Back then some zealous lawyers warned her that she might just get clobbered because Justice Monaphathi is one of the most streetwise judges on the bench.
So Muckraker waited patiently for she understood that there was a possibility that Justice Monaphathi might come in flying with blows. Nothing happened. It was much ado about dololo.

Not because Justice Monaphathi was not irritated but because he understood that there are some things that should be said. Because he is as streetwise as the street lights, the judge realised that there was work to do.
If not that then his street smarts told him that there was no point in fighting a thug like Muckraker. He moaned to a few colleagues but the peace between us remained unmolested. Muckraker had spoken.

Now Justice Monaphathi should whisper those words of wisdom to Justice Nomncongo who should be hanging his head in shame for such a flagrant dereliction of duty.

Tears must well his nourished cheeks when he reads ‘Mei’s harrowing affidavit.
One last question to the judge: was the ‘Mei case as difficult as his name?

Muckraker was itching to write something about the budget but just could not gather the strength to do it. It’s a doubly depressing document concocted by a man under extreme pressure to make a loti out of 15 lisente.
Never in our history has a finance minister been asked to achieve so much with so little.

Poor Dr Majoro, an economist who worked for a Bretton Woods institution, has now been reduced into a magician.
If he drags this government out of this financial mess Muckraker will take off her hat and polish his shoes with her tongue for months.
She might even mop Maqalika dry. Or lick the whole government complex until it is dripping wet. That’s not a threat but a promise. Keep Majoro in your prayers.

The books don’t balance, the coffers are empty and the prospects of filling them are dim. So there you have it: we are a broke little country.
But that won’t stop people from stealing hand over fist and globetrotting to useless junkets. It’s in our nature to spend randomly that which we have not earned.  We engage in such opulence in a country whose budget is only double that of a university in South Africa.

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