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Charity begins at home

by Lesotho Times
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THIS newspaper has on numerous times raised concerns over the state of our judiciary system.

We have not hesitated to pinpoint areas we felt needed urgent attention.

In fact we have highlighted problems that threaten to compromise the dispensing of justice in the country.

We have done so at the risk of courting trouble for ourselves as a newspaper.

For instance, we have reported about the shocking delays in dealing with court cases some of them dating back to the early 1990s.

We have expressed our disgust over these delays.

We have raised these issues because we sincerely believe the issues need to be addressed if we are to have a functional democracy.

We believe a well-oiled judiciary is a key cog in any democratic society.

It is for these reasons that we will continue to keep our eye on the ball by monitoring and reporting what is going on in our judicial system.

Two weeks ago, the president of the Law Society of Lesotho, Zwelakhe Mda, attacked High Court judges for failing to deliver judgments on time.

Mda called for the “naming and shaming” of these judges who were undermining the delivery of justice.

“My lords, the Law Society is of the view that judges who are guilty of undermining delivery of justice to the people through failure to deliver judgments must be named and shamed,” Mda said.

But we doubt if the threat to “name and shame” will cajole the judges into action to help clear the mounting backlog in court cases.

Besides simply embarrassing these judges the “naming and shaming” tactic is likely to fall flat on its face.

Our sister paper, the Sunday Express, this week carried a story about advocates who are appearing in court without instructions from attorneys.

Under the country’s Legal Practitioners’ Act it is an offence for lawyers to appear in court without first getting instructions from attorneys.

The law also stipulates that only attorneys are supposed to register companies, draft divorce summons and run estates.

Only attorneys are allowed to work as liquidators for companies and as judicial managers.

But lawyers in Lesotho have been flouting this cardinal rule for years — with impunity.

The Law Society which is supposed to regulate registered lawyers appears totally disinterested in dealing with the matter.

We are convinced that the Law Society is aware of these illegal practices.

We also believe it is time that the society cleans up the system.

The system does not just have a few “bad apples”. It has become rotten from top to bottom.

It needs total cleansing.

The Law Society has been quick to attack the High Court judges over the delays in dealing with court cases.

But we believe the society needs a squeaky clean image that is beyond reproach if it is to maintain the moral high ground.

It can only do so by ensuring that no registered lawyer openly flouts the law under its watch.

The society needs to crack down on lawyers flouting the law by masquerading as attorneys when they are mere advocates.

The president of the Law Society, who is an advocate himself, should certainly be aware of what is happening in the legal fraternity. And we are convinced that he knows.

Mda should certainly acknowledge that there is a crisis in the legal fraternity.

He cannot seek to wish away the problem by blaming “bad apples” in the fraternity.

That cannot wash.

Mda cannot possibly try to “hide behind a finger” by claiming that he had never heard of such cases when attorneys and judges say this practice is prevalent.

He cannot seek to blame judges for the collapse of the judiciary when his own constituency, a key facet of the judiciary system, is in such a mess.

He must accept — and urgently so — that lawyers have played a significant role in undermining justice delivery in this country.

Only when he begins to accept this reality will he be seen as part of the solution to the problems besetting the judiciary.

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