Do not muzzle Law Society

Do not muzzle Law Society

THE President of the Law Society of Lesotho, Takane Maqakachane, and his deputy, Lintle Tuke, recently torched a storm after they accused some of Lesotho’s top judges of gross incompetence.
They said some of the current judges were not fit for office and should instead be employed in the taxi industry.

The remarks have infuriated Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane who has now demanded that the two name the judges they feel are incompetent, a request the Law Society bosses have rejected.
This has now set the stage for what is likely to be yet another bruising battle between the Law Society on one hand and the Chief Justice on the other.
The Law Society’s criticism, it would appear, stems from what it sees as a flawed appointment process that has allowed corrupt and morally questionable individuals to sneak onto the bench.
That sounds like fair criticism.

But instead of taking the criticism on the chin, Chief Justice Sakoane has now taken the two lawyers to task over what he sees as incendiary remarks that could bring the judiciary into disrepute.
While we agree that the language used by the Law Society bosses might have been extremely provocative and uncouth, it would be sad if the Chief Justice were to focus on that alone while leaving the substantial issues they raised untouched.

If Chief Justice Sakoane were to do so, that would lend credence to the two lawyers’ charge that they were now being persecuted for daring raise issues that were already in the public domain.
For over a decade now, journalists have raised serious questions surrounding the conduct of certain judges.
While not necessarily questioning the integrity of these judges, we noted with alarm how some judges almost abused their power by failing to live up to their oath of office.
We are aware of cases that dragged for years in the courts without any finality.

Some have even died while waiting for judges to deliver judgments. When we ran some of these tragic stories, there was an uproar from individuals who thought we had an axe to grind with the judges.
The long, embarrassing fight between two senior judges over who was senior was also well documented.
We at thepost know what we are talking about. We at one point were victims of a dubious court judgment that thankfully had to be overturned at the Court of Appeal.

But beyond our own court battle, we have written a number of astonishing cases of what appeared to be gross abuse of office.
We have noted how judges got entangled in a political web as they delivered questionable judgments to please their handlers.
What is in the public domain are statements by previous Chief Justices condemning the conduct of certain judges.
And so when the Law Society speaks of judicial incompetence and a “toxic and dangerous environment”, we think they are doing so from an informed position. The Society works closely with the judges and we believe they must not be muzzled. Instead, their criticism should pave the way for a robust debate on the matters they raised.

We would like to believe that Chief Justice Sakoane would have done himself a big favour were he to invite the Law Society for a private chat on the matters they raised.
Lesotho would be better served that way.
Chief Justice Sakoane must not see this as a challenge to his authority but rather as an opportunity to continuously learn about the problems that are bedeviling the judiciary.

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