Justice Mahase sued

Justice Mahase sued

MASERU – THE Law Society of Lesotho has filed an urgent application in the Court of Appeal to stop Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase from appointing a judge to hear a case in which she is one of the litigants.
In court papers, the Law Society argues that Justice Mahase has no right to allocate a judge to hear a matter in which she is cited.

This was after Justice Mahase last Thursday ordered that the matter against her and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane be heard before a panel of judges which she will appoint.
President of the Law Society, Advocate Tekane Maqaqachane, said they are appealing on the grounds that Justice Mahase erred and misdirected herself in sitting and presiding over a matter and issuing an order in the case despite also being a litigant.

On Thursday the Law Society filed an urgent application to block Thabane’s plan to suspend Court of Appeal President, Justice Kananelo Mosito.
Justice Mahase is also cited as a respondent in the case.
In the grounds of appeal, Adv Maqaqachane argues that Justice Mahase is an interested party in the proceedings.
Her actions, the lawyers’ body argue, are contrary to the common law natural justice principle that a judge may not preside over a matter in which they have an interest as a party.

“By so doing, she has effectively become a judge in her own case,” Advocate Maqakachane said.
Advocate Maqaqachane further argues that as an interested party, Justice Mahase frustrated the efforts by the Law Society to appear before the panel of three judges last Thursday and seek interim relief as the society was entitled in terms of the law.

“Justice Mahase stood down the matter to July 18 and thereby rendering the urgent interim relief sought by the appellant nugatory, illusory and with no practical significance,” he said.
He said the main concern of the Law Society in the urgent application against Thabane is a letter that he issued on July 5 to Justice Mosito.
In the letter, Thabane asked Justice Mosito to “show cause” why he may not advise or recommend His Majesty, the King that Justice Mosito be suspended from office in line with the constitution of the country.
“The directive of the Prime Minister in the circumstances constitutes a bare and naked interference with the independence of the judiciary entrenched under the constitution as well as the contravention of the hallowed constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers,” he said.

“Such directive from the Prime Minister is a serious threat to the rule of law constitutionalism and is arbitrary and an abuse of power,” the court heard.
Advocate Maqaqachane indicated that the suspension of Justice Mosito under the present circumstances does not only further diminish public trust in the judiciary, but also seriously affects the administration of justice which depends much on the public trust placed on an independent judiciary.

Thabane wrote the show-cause letter after Justice Mahase wrote a similar the same letter to Justice Mosito. This followed an order by Justice Mosito that the All Basotho Convention (ABC) leadership wrangle case be heard by a different judge other than Justice Mahase.

Itumeleng Khoete

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