Mosito upbeat as Court of Appeal finally sits

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NUL Dean of the Faculty of Law Dr Kananelo Mosito
NUL Dean of the Faculty of Law Dr Kananelo Mosito

Tefo Tefo

Justice Kananelo Mosito said Monday’s sitting of the Court of Appeal marked the return to normality of the administration of justice in Lesotho.

Dr Mosito made the remarks as he officially opened the first session of the Court of Appeal for 2015 after it failed to proceed between 20 April and 5 May.

The session was called-off after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) refused to approve judges the Court of Appeal president had selected to preside over the 38 cases to be heard during the sitting.

The JSC’s disapproval of the judges came at a time Justice Mosito had just been appointed president of the apex court in January this year.

However, the appointment was strongly contested by five prominent lawyers namely King’s Counsel Salemane Phafane, Zwelakhe Mda, Motiea Teele, Karabo Mohau and Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, who issued a statement alleging the president was appointed at the wrong time when then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane did not have full powers to make such a major recruitment.

During Monday’s address, Justice Mosito said the sitting was a sign that the situation was returning to in the country’s judiciary.

“We are all witnesses to the fact that the road ultimately leading to this Court being able to sit today, has not only been very rock-strewn, but also very turbulent and bumpy.

“It is gratifying to have the chance to address you at this prestigious moment.

“This is so precious a moment for us because the fact that this is the first sitting of the court this year underlines the return of the wheels of justice to normalcy.”

Justice Mosito also said the sitting indicated that Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries had allowed their judges to join the Lesotho Court of Appeal bench for this session.

Five judges namely Phillip Musonda from Zambia, Jennifer Yvonne Mokgoro from South Africa, Moses Hungwe  Chinhengo from Zimbabwe and Petrus Tileinge Damaseb from Namibia have been appointed to preside over cases during the ongoing Appeal Court session.

This development, Justice Mosito said, served to “demonstrate that it is not beyond our capacity as SADC to ensure that our people are served by their sons and daughters drawn from within the region, thereby promoting the practice of a fair and non-discriminatory recruitment and selection procedure… and to strive for and maintain international and multicultural personnel at the apex courts of our region.”

However, in a new turn of events this time around, Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe and President of the Law Society of Lesotho Advocate Shale Shale were not given opportunities to make remarks as had been the norm during the reign of Justice Michael Ramodibedi.

This session is expected to hear 38 appeals composed of seven criminal and 31 civil cases.

High Court judges namely Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, Tšeliso Monaphathi, Semapo Peete and ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane, form part of the Court of Appeal bench for the current session.

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