Chief Justice’s case postponed indefinitely
CHIEF Justice Nthomeng Majara’s court bid to stop Prime Minister Thabane from impeaching her over a plethora of misconduct allegations has been postponed indefinitely after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) objected to one of the judges who had been seconded to preside over the case.
The government requested South African judges to preside over the case.
However, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Moshoeshoe Sehloho, yesterday told the Lesotho Times that the JSC objected to one of the judges who was seconded to the case on the grounds that “he does not have enough experience to preside over a case of this magnitude”.
Justice Majara petitioned the High Court in May this year for an order to interdict Dr Thabane from recommending the appointment of a tribunal to impeach her over a plethora of misconduct allegations.
She filed the court application after Dr Thabane wrote to her on 27 April 2018 and asked her to ‘show cause’ why she should not be suspended and impeached over several misconduct allegations which include her alleged failure to preside over cases for two years.
Justice Majara is also accused of incompetence resulting in a huge backlog of cases at the High Court which some judicial officers say is as high as 4000.
Dr Thabane further accuses the chief justice of contributing to the paralysis in the judiciary by failing to take the appropriate disciplinary and punitive measures against her subordinates who neglect their duties to speedily hear cases.
However Justice Majara, who is represented by Advocate Qhalehang Letsika KC of Mei & Mei Attorneys, fought back by filing a court challenge against Dr Thabane last month.
Dr Thabane, the Minister of Law, Lebohang Hlaele and the Attorney General, Haae Phoofolo are cited as first to third respondents respectively in Justice Majara’s lawsuit.
The much-postponed matter was supposed to be heard yesterday after it was postponed last week on the grounds that South African judges had not been secured to preside over the case.
And yesterday, the case failed to proceed after the JSC meeting on Monday failed to agree on the judges to preside over the case.
Yesterday, the Acting High Court and Court of Appeal Registrar Pontšo Phafoli, told the Lesotho Times that “the matter has been postponed indefinitely”.
“We are still waiting for the judges who will preside over the case to communicate a new date,” Ms Phafoli said.
“The JSC is the one which appoints the judges and some of the judges which already have been approved have presided over cases before.”
Ms Phafoli said they had already had two judges and still needed a third judge for the case. She said their South Africans counterparts would have to recommend three judges from which they would choose one for the case.
The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Moshoeshoe Sehloho, said “We can’t set the dates of the case when we don’t even know the availability of the judges who will be appointed to the case”.
Mr Sehloho also said that a third judge who had been seconded by South Africa “does not qualify to preside over a case of this magnitude because he is fairly new in his appointment as a judge in South Africa”.
“This judge has only been a judge in South Africa for a month. He was a magistrate from November 2008 and therefore does not have the experience needed in this particular case,” Mr Sehloho said.
On his part, Attorney General Haae Phoofolo suggested that the postponement was necessary to enable the incoming judges to familiarise themselves with the case.
“It is imperative for any judge to familiarise themselves with the matter at hand and to date we still don’t even know the identity of the judges who will preside over the case,” Adv Phoofolo said.