Judge under fire

Judge under fire

Staff Reporter

MASERU – HIGH Court judge Justice Lebohang Molete has angered the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) for sitting on a judgment in a case in which the party is fighting to regain control of its property.

The party has requested for an urgent intervention from Justice Minister Moeketse Malebo.
In a letter of complaint seen by thepost, the party’s treasurer Matshogo Moroe asks Malebo to intervene “as the minister responsible in a glaring matter of a miscarriage of justice”.
The party accuses Justice Molete of taking more than 12 months to finalise a case in which he granted an interim order against it. The delay is despite that the judge granted the interim order on an urgent basis. “This is the clearest case of justice delayed is justice denied,” Moroe writes. “He (Justice Molete) still has not heard the merits on the simple application involving tenancy. He still has not delivered his reserved judgment on the points in limine,” Moroe said.

The party has a building situated at the Cathedral Area in Maseru which it has sub-let to Busstop Holdings (Pty) Ltd. In 2015 a dispute arose between the landlord and the tenant. In December of the same year the tenant initiated motion proceedings on an urgent basis in the High Court’s commercial division before Justice Molete.

The judge granted an interim order that gave a local attorney Qhalehang Letsika of Mei and Mei powers to collect rentals from the premises and keep them in his trust account.
Justice Molete’s interim order was also that Letsika should pay to the BCP on a monthly basis M75 000. But the party complains that for over 12 months it has not received the payment from Letsika.

Moroe says the party does not know how much the attorney is collecting as rentals from the premises, how much he has collected so far, how he is keeping the rentals so collected and where he is keeping them.

He also says the party wants to know how many tenants the attorney is collecting rentals from and how much he is collecting from each tenant.
“The major concern of the party, Honourable Minister, is the glaring miscarriage of justice that is apparent here,” Moroe says.
Justice Molete heard arguments on October 9, 2016, almost a year later, and reserved judgment for 60 days.

The 60 days period expired on December 9 but no judgment was given.
“We are told that Judge Molete is now saying he will deliver judgment on an unspecific date in January 2017,” Moroe says.

“Another delay of justice which has already graduated into a denial of justice,” he says.
Moroe says the BCP is concerned that if Justice Molete “can take over a year to determine preliminary objections in a simple tenancy application, then the merits are likely to take even much longer to finalise”.
“In the meantime the party is suffering irreparably and the degree of prejudice is immeasurable.”

Moroe, justifying the party’s request for the executive intervention in a matter dealt with by the judiciary, argues that “accountability should not be sacrificed on the altar of the independence of the judiciary”.
“In fact, independence of the judiciary does not mean, and should not mean absence of accountability,” Moroe says.

“Accountability is the only tool for ensuring that everyone carries out their responsibilities with the requisite decorum and transparency,” he says.
Moroe says this matter has become more urgent because the BCP’s activities are being crippled and for a whole year now it has not been easy to run its affairs.

“The party has to start to prepare for the upcoming Local Government elections and it cannot do so when the matter is taking ages before the courts,” Moroe says.
“There are indications that general elections are looming in the horizon, and the party will be prejudiced if there is still no certainty in the Commercial Court about its source of funds,” he says.

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