Stark warming to our judges

Stark warming to our judges

THE dramatic pictures of controversial former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane in cuffs, finally trudging to remand prison as captured on our front page this week, is not a good sight at all.
With her husband finally stripped of political power, ‘Maesaiah has found herself without any defensive cover and at the mercy of Lesotho’s justice system.

‘Maesaiah had successfully evaded jail, thanks to some legal gymnastics from acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase, who granted her bail under very controversial circumstances.

But with Thomas Thabane out of power, and Justice Mahase rendered virtually impotent, ‘Maesaiah has been left badly exposed.
While it is true that ‘Maesaiah offended a lot of people through her brusque personality, it is our hope that she will be treated with the dignity that she deserves as a former First Lady.

We also hope that she will continue to be viewed as innocent until she is proven guilty by our competent courts.
As we watch with keen interest developments surrounding the Lipolelo Thabane murder, it is our hope that the courts will move swiftly to deal with the matter and deliver justice for Lipolelo.

Yet is it is almost impossible to deal with the ‘Maesaiah matter without interrogating the opaque role played by her husband in the matter.
Thabane himself has said he did not kill Lipolelo. But he must also have his day in court to clear his name. Unless he does so, Thabane will forever battle the perception that he had a hand in the murder of his estranged wife.

That is not a nice scenario. This court process provides him with a chance to clear his name. He must see this process not as a witch-hunt but as an opportunity to wash clean his soiled name.

‘Maesaiah joins a long list of former first ladies who never knew where their power ended. Through her proximity to the seat of power, ‘Maesaiah abused with gusto what was essentially power by association.
But hers was a typical example of an unsophisticated, cantankerous woman who was blinded by power.

Here was a woman who went all out to abandon her traditional grounding that defines us as Basotho. The result was that she became abrasive and rubbed people the wrong way.
On another level, ‘Maesaiah’s arrest is a serious indictment on Justice Mahase who granted her bail under very dubious circumstances.
Here was a judge who was willing to put her long, illustrous career on the line for a political cause.

But she did it.
The revocation of her bail ruling looks like a slap on her face.
In any other country, the judge might have resigned in shame. When Thabane was on the ropes, Justice Mahase fought in his corner.
Now the chickens have come home to roost.
What the latest developments have shown is that our systems are still working as a country. And when politicians stop interfering, our police can do a fantastic job.

The judiciary, which had become an embarrassment over the years, must be allowed the space to claw back its lost credibility.
But for it to do so, it will need the help of politicians. They must simply stop meddling in how the courts function.

The revoking of ‘Maesaiah’s bail must also serve as a stark warning to our judges never to hop into bed with politicians. The risks far outweigh any temporary benefits they might accrue.

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