Lawyers fight in Chief Justice’s corner

Lawyers fight in Chief Justice’s corner

MASERU – FOUR senior lawyers have written to the Law Society of Lesotho asking it to defend Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara who they say has come under a barrage of attacks from the government. The letter signed by Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, Advocate Karabo Mohau and Advocate Motiea Teele says the Law Society Council should come to the rescue of the judiciary.

The lawyers said the judiciary is facing an unprecedented assault from who should help it maintain its independence.
Justice Majara is under severe pressure following a blistering attack by Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs Lebohang Hlaele.
The lawyers said it is unprecedented for a government minister to single out a judge for such virulent attack.

Hlaele attacked the top judge last month when he accepted a petition from a group that is pushing for the speedy swearing in of Court of Appeal President Justice Kananelo Mosito. Hlaele mocked Justice Majara for failing to score enough points during interviews at the International Criminal Court. He said the judge had failed to perform well because she was focused on corrupt activities than her judicial duties, a statement that has infuriated the top lawyers.

Hlaele also accused the judge of abusing her power when she rented an expensive house way beyond her monthly housing allowance.
The four lawyers accused Hlaele of being too personal. “The Minister has not only been very personal with the Chief Justice, but has been very low, unfair, cheap and lacking in civility in that he knows very well that he is insulting an official who, by virtue of her office, cannot go on public media to defend herself,” the letter reads. It says what is sad is that many uninformed members of the public will be misled into thinking that the Chief Justice’s silence means she has nothing to say in her defence.

The lawyers said “what is even sadder is for some members of the legal profession to be complicit in these virulent and misguided attacks”.
“It is against this background that we call upon the Law Society Council to take the necessary legal action in defence of the judiciary,” the letter reads.
The top lawyers said while it is fairly easy to unleash anarchy, the consequences of doing so are as unpredictable as they are difficult to uproot.
They said there is no surer way of having the country descend into a state of anarchy than to make people lose confidence in those entrusted with the duty of dispensing justice.

Hlaele confirmed receipt of the letter copied to him. He said the M27 000 per month house rented for Justice Majara has been a cause of concern for the Basotho nation. Hlaele said his remarks were based on the allegations that were all over the media regarding Chief Justice Majara’s rented home.
He denied insulting Justice Majara.

“I have never said the Chief Justice is corrupt,” Hlaele said. Hlaele said he only made a statement that Justice Majara had failed to get a job at the International Criminal Court because she was pondering over the M27 000 per month house saga that has triggered a serious concern among Basotho. The President of the Law Society of Lesotho, Advocate Tumisang Mosotho, could not be reached for comment last night as his phone rang unanswered.

Majara Molupe

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