Mosito impeachment proceedings begin

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Tefo Tefo

A three-member tribunal established to investigate tax-evasion allegations against Court of Appeal President, Justice Kananelo Mosito, began its work on Monday this week.

The tribunal is comprised of chairperson Justice Frederik Daniel Jacobus Brand, Justice Noel Victor Hurt, and Justice John Godfrey Foxcroft all from South Africa, and started by drawing a roadmap on how to conduct the proceedings.

King Letsie III last month appointed the tribunal, in accordance with the advice of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, to investigate Justice Mosito who is accused of failing to pay income tax between 1996 and 2014.

The government wants to impeach Justice Mosito after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), King’s Counsel Leaba Thetsane, preferred the charges against the judge.

The government says it would not be in the interest of justice that Dr Mosito continues holding office when there are such serious allegations against him.

According to the letter written by Dr Mosisili to Justice Mosito on 4 February 2016 the tribunal was supposed to start its proceedings yesterday.

But according to sources close to the matter, the concerned parties met on Monday and Tuesday at a local hotel where the proceedings are going to be held.

The parties involved in the proceedings signed a document titled ‘Agreed Procedural Arrangement’ on Tuesday, indicating how the hearings would be conducted.

Part of the document reads: “It is agreed between the parties and the Tribunal that the following procedure will apply in order to define the issues in the hearing:

  1. The complainant (government) is to deliver to the Respondent’s Attorney, by the 19th April 2016, a statement of the grounds of its complaint against the Respondent (Justice Mosito), such statement to be accompanied by the documents upon which the Complainant intends to rely in support of its contentions.
  2. The Respondent is to deliver to the Complainant’s Attorney, by 1st June, 2016, a statement of the grounds upon which he relies in support of his defence against the complainant, such statement to be accompanied by any documents (other than those accompanying the complainant’s statement) upon which he intends to rely in support of his defence.”

The agreement was also that the proceedings should run from 8 to 10 August 2016.

Justice Mosito’s troubles started in August last year when Advocate Thetsane preferred charges against him for allegedly not paying tax between 1996 and 2014.

However, Justice Mosito filed an urgent constitutional case in which he wanted to have charges against him dropped.

His argument was that the charges were discriminatory because he had been singled out of other judges as well as some top lawyers, he alleged also did not pay tax as required by the law.

But before his case could be heard, the Prime Minister notified Dr Mosito about the government’s intention to have him impeached on the basis of the tax allegations.

Again he filed a constitutional case to block Dr Mosisili’s intention to have him impeached.

The two cases were heard together and the judge lost both of them.

He has since appealed against both judgments.

In the meantime, Dr Mosito filed an application before the Court of Appeal for an order stopping his prosecution and impeachment proceedings pending the finalisation of the appeal.

But the Court of Appeal on 26 January 2016 ruled that the prime minister had the right to proceed with the impeachment proceedings even before Justice Mosito’s appeal has been heard.

However, the Court of Appeal said the prosecution against him should not proceed until the appeal has been heard.

It is expected that the appeal would be heard in the April session whose dates have not yet been announced.

Justice Mosito was indefinitely suspended from work on 12 February 2016.

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