King’s Counsel (KC) Kananelo Mosito was sworn-in on Tuesday this week as the new President of the Court of Appeal, succeeding Justice Michael Ramodibedi who resigned under pressure last year.
Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara administered the oath at the Royal Palace in the presence of King Letsie III and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
The swearing-in ceremony was also witnessed by the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation Thesele ‘Maseribane, Law, Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs Minister Haae Phoofolo, Development Planning Minister Moeketsi Majoro, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Motlohi Maliehe, Public Service Minister Motloheloa Phooko and Foreign Affairs and International Affairs Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa.
Lesotho’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Kelebone Maope was also among the dignitaries who witnessed the swearing in of the second Mosotho to head Lesotho’s apex court.
However, some key stakeholders in the administration of justice in Lesotho, among them Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Leaba Thetsane, were not present at the occasion.
Also conspicuous by his absence at the ceremony was Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.
Five top lawyers who had earlier warned against the appointment of Advocate Mosito were also not present at the swearing-in ceremony.
A close source told the Lesotho Times yesterday that the lawyers—King’s Counsel Salemane Phafane, Motiea Teele, Zwelakhe Mda, Karabo Mohau and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika—were still considering the next step to take regarding the appointment, which they had said was ill-timed considering the country’s prevailing political instability. The lawyers also noted the government did not have the authority to make the appointment as it was in power on a caretaker basis following the dissolution of parliament on 5 December last year.
The National Assembly was dissolved to pave way for a snap election on 28 February this year, which followed the collapse of the coalition government led by Dr Thabane.
However, some lawyers organised a welcome ceremony for Justice Mosito in Masianokeng immediately after the swearing-in ceremony.
Among those present at the party were Justices ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane and Moelefi Makara, as well as Acting Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal, Lesitsi Mokeke.
Advocate Mosito, 53, who was Acting Judge of the High Court and presided over Labour Appeal Court cases, is Dean in the Faculty of Law at the National University of Lesotho (NUL). He also runs his own law firm, KEM Chambers, whose head office is in Maseru.
His appointment as head of the judiciary comes almost nine months after the resignation of then office-bearer, Justice Michael Ramodibedi.
Justice Ramodibedi decided to vacate the post in April 2014 after losing a case before the Court of Appeal, in which he wanted to stop impeachment proceedings against him instituted by Dr Thabane.
Dr Thabane had advised King Letsie III to establish a tribunal to investigate Justice Ramodibedi for possible misconduct he allegedly committed on 23 July, 2013.
Justice Douglas Scott had been Acting Court of Appeal President since Justice Ramodibedi’s resignation.