Top prosecutor back on the job

Top prosecutor back on the job

MASERU– Top South African prosecutor, Advocate Shaun Abrahams, is back on his M25 000 a day job a week after he quit in protest.
But his return has been met with howls of protest from local lawyers who accused the government of giving Abrahams preferential treatment.
Although the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, did not disclose why Abrahams had quit, sources close to the matter said the prosecutor “was owed a lot of money”.

They said Advocate Motinyane had begged Abrahams to come back on the promise that the terms of his contract would be met.
His return however has now torched an angry response from some lawyers who complained of “unfair treatment by the court”. Local lawyers said they are paid M400 a day when they appear pro deo.
Advocate Napo Mafaesa who is representing some of the soldiers facing a litany of charges including murder and attempted murder, said it was unfair for Advocate Motinyane to coax Abrahams back in the courts after he resigned.

Advocate Mafaesa said they have been treated unfairly as defence lawyers from day one of these high profile cases.
He said the government refused to pay them proper rates and instead promised to pay them M400 per appearance.
“Even to date, we have not yet been paid,” Adv Mafaesa said.
And when they told the court that they were withdrawing from the cases, the judges immediately found a replacement.

He said the judges told them that they could not wait for much longer as they have to proceed with the cases.
“The judges and Shaun (Abrahams) himself gave us an attitude when we said we had other cases to attend besides those of the soldiers,” Adv Mafaesa said.
He said they were told that they should go and find other people to stand in for them as they could not postpone those cases.
“It is unfair for us bearing in mind that we are not even paid even a quarter of what Abrahams earns,” he said.

“When he withdrew, instead of the DPP or government being clear that they are going to save money, they moved to get him back to continue prosecuting the cases.”
“It is clear that Lesotho lawyers get lesser appreciation as compared to their counterparts from other countries working in this country,” he said.
“Foreign lawyers are treated as kings of the jungle by the government of Lesotho.”
Advocate Letuka Molati said he is representing some of the soldiers for free because the government got a court order from the judge in one of the cases.

“The court order cancelled the arrangement to have soldiers paid for an amount of M400 per day,” he said.
“I could not go begging for the second time because the intention of the government was to expel senior lawyers and those with litigation experience in order to have soldiers represented by novice lawyers fresh from the graduation podium for a quicker unfair trial and conviction,” Adv Molati said.
He said lawyers are the same regardless of the country of origin and as a result, they have to be treated the same.
He said most of those who are from South Africa and titled ‘Senior Counsel’ know their graft, “but some things are best left unsaid”.

Malimpho Majoro

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