Judges clash

Judges clash

MASERU -ACTING Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase has launched a stinging attack on President of the Court of Appeal Justice Kananelo Mosito for allegedly interfering with her duties.
A letter dated May 27, 2019, reveals the extent of the animosity between the judges and reflects the paralysis in the judiciary.
It is also a reflection of the deep levels of polarisation in the judiciary.

Justice Mahase says she is particularly concerned about the Court of Appeal’s decision in the past two sessions (April and May) to entertain appeals without the High Court’s consent.
She says as a result of these actions the Court of Appeal is issuing orders that interfere with her administrative powers as Chief Justice.
Justice Mahase makes it clear that she is not happy with the Court of Appeal’s most recent decision to hear an appeal to her judgement two weeks ago.
Justice Mahase granted an order declaring the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s elective conference in February illegal.

She granted the order despite that she was yet to rule in another matter in which some senior ABC officials were challenging the results of the same elective conference.
She did not hear from Professor Nqosa Mahao’s faction that had an vested interest in the matter before granting the order.
Prof Mahao’s faction then appealed against the judgement. The Court of Appeal ordered that the matter be returned to the High Court but Justice Mahase should not preside over it.
This order, Justice Mahase argues, is despite the fact this application is partly-heard before the High Court and there is an interlocutory order issued.
She complains that the effect of this order to rescue “me from the matter without the benefit of having had such a request placed before me by any of the parties is highly unprocedural and unheard of in this jurisdiction”.

Justice Mahase argues that the order of recusal was made despite that none of the parties made such a request and it was never part of the appeal.
She says the Court of Appeal heard the case when the High Court had not been served with a notice of appeal and its grounds.
She says she wonders how the Court of Appeal could have assumed jurisdiction over the case without a notice of appeal.
“What actually is the foundational basis of this appeal to the Court of Appeal?”
Justice Mahase asks why that appeal was heard by five judges who delivered judgement a few hours later on the same day (May 24) when the court’s roll says all judgements will be delivered on May 31.

She says she is “greatly concerned” that the Court of Appeal is “setting or issuing” a deadline within which the High Court should rule on matters remitted to it by Justice Mosito’s court.
She asks what would happen if High Court judges failed to meet those deadlines.
“Are we going to see the Court of Appeal issuing contempt of court proceedings against High Court judges?”
She says she is shocked that the Court of Appeal is turning a blind eye when lawyers are violating court rules with “impunity”.
Justice Mahase also accuses Justice Mosito of presiding over matters in which he has interests.

“With the greatest respect, in the said ABC matter and I must hasten to say in the Korokoro matter, you presided over this matter despite the notoriously well-known fact that you are compromised,” she is quoted as saying.
The letter reads: “You, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Advocate Nkoya Thabane and Advocate Matee are all employees at the National University of Lesotho, and that in fact, Prof Mahao who is one of litigants in the Korokoro and ABC matter respectively, is your ‘BOSS’ or your employer for want of a better word.”
“Don’t you feel compromised or somewhat conflicted in presiding over matters in which they are all directly involved?”

Itumeleng Khoete

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