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M7m for judge to walk away

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MASERU – JUSTICE Nthomeng Majara has become an instant millionaire after the government paid her a staggering M7 million to resign as Chief Justice, thepost can reveal.
Justice Majara resigned early last month after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane waged a protracted battle to remove her from office on allegations of misconduct that she has strenuously denied.
She has labelled the charges “trumped up”.

Her resignation followed a long-drawn-out court battle that ended with a settlement that thepost has seen. The agreement was signed on September 11 last year but its details have been kept under wraps.
The agreement says Justice Majara, government officials and court officials will not talk to the media about its contents.

Although the agreement does not mention figures judicial sources have told thepost that Justice Majara was recently paid M10 million to walk away.
She however took home M7 million after taxes, according to highly placed sources privy to the details of the payment.

How the amount was calculated is not mentioned in the agreement but it could be based on her official retirement age.
At 57, Justice Majara was still 18 years away from a judge’s official retirement age of 75. Her gross salary as the chief judge was around M46 000.
Without allowing for annual escalations, she was going to earn M9 936 000, before taxes, over the next eighteen years.

That puts the figure close to the final settlement of M10 million. The agreement shows that the only entitlement Justice Majara would forfeit were “the per diem allowances that were due and payable before the parties entered into and concluded” the Settlement Agreement”.

It says Justice Majara would submit her resignation to the Prime Minister and the King immediately after receiving proof that the government had paid.
The judge also agreed to withdraw the case in which was challenging her suspension. Several judicial sources said the money could not have come from the judiciary because it is broke.

Justice Majara was suspended in September 2018, almost exactly four years after her appointment during Thabane’s first coalition government.
Thabane accused her of renting a M27 000-per-month mansion from a fellow judge, hiring private lawyers to represent her with the Attorney General’s permission, bringing the judiciary into disrepute by having a “verbal spat” the Minister of Law and gallivanting on international trips instead of managing the courts.

Other charges were that she failed to hear contested cases, deliver judgments in two years and discipline errant judges.
Justice Majara however vehemently denied the allegations and instead accused Thabane of concocting the charges to get rid of her.
Thabane’s plan, she argued in court papers, was to replace her with a malleable and politically sympathetic Chief Justice.

Thabane has since advised the King to appoint Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase as her substantive replacement.
But Justice Mahase seems to have found banana peels scattered on her path to becoming the Chief Justice.

As Majara retreats from the public eye, Justice Mahase has found herself in the middle of a storm that might sabotage her rise.
The chief instigator of her troubles is former Minister Lebohang Hlaele, the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s secretary general who has fallen out with Thabane, his father-in-law.

Last Thursday Hlaele’s lawyer, Koili Ndebele, asked the King to ignore Thabane’s advice to confirm Justice Mahase.
Hlaele argued that it would be inappropriate to appoint Justice Mahase when there is a pending case in which he is seeking to compel the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to impeach her for alleged bias.

In that case Hlaele argues that Justice Mahase is unfit to be a judge because she showed brazen bias when she was dealing with cases between the ABC’s warring factions.
Justice Mahase is seen as close to Thabane and her husband, who faces fraud charges, is a staunch ABC supporter.

Others view Thabane’s attempt to promote Justice Mahase as a plot to stack the judiciary and other state institutions with pliable individuals who will do his bidding when he leaves office.

Thabane has said he intends to leave office but has not mentioned a date.
He has however said he will fire Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli before he leaves office, a move that could further confirm suspicions that he wants to clear the deck of senior officials he perceives as unfriendly and might give him sleepless nights when he retires.

Staff Reporter

 

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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