MASERU — The Law Society of Lesotho (LSL) says it fully respects the decision by the Court of Appeal to dismiss their appeal against the conferment of the title of King’s Counsel on Leaba Thetsane.
Thetsane, who is the Director of Public Prosecutions, has been involved in a fierce spat with the Law Society after he was awarded the title of King’s Counsel by King Letsie III last July.
The Law Society wanted Thetsane stripped of the honour arguing he had not offered distinguished service in the judiciary.
But the Court of Appeal last month dismissed the case.
In his first public response last week Thetsane lashed out at the leadership of the Law Society who he accused of behaving like student activists.
Law Society president Zwelakhe Mda said while they did not agree with the judgment they will do everything in their power to abide by it.
“We are lawyers and we respect the decisions of courts including the very decision of the Court of Appeal which quashed our appeal.
“We will do everything in our power to abide by it and respect it, but we do not agree with it, we feel it is wrong,” Mda said last Friday.
He said if the decision had come from any other court they would have challenged it.
Mda said their reasons were based on Section 5 of the Legal Practitioners’ Act 1983 which states that “the first law officer of the crown shall have the highest honour, who is the attorney-general”.
He said the section did not refer to any other lawyer except the attorney-general.
“Our point is simple — that Mr Thetsane is not the first law officer,” Mda said.
He said as far as they knew Thetsane has still not been admitted as a practising lawyer.
“According to our records, nowhere does it reflect that he has been admitted. There is enough material of dispute on this issue,” Mda said.
Mda said instead of wasting time attacking the Law Society Thetsane should focus on prosecuting state agents who torture suspects in their custody.
“We invite the DPP to enjoin us to address the scourge of the subculture of torture of suspects by law enforcement agents by bringing those perpetrators to book because it is within his powers to do so,” Mda said.
“It is a known fact that there is a subculture of torture perpetrated by security agents. Yet Thetsane . . . has not taken steps to get rid of the rampant culture of torture.”
Mda said section 8 (1) of the constitution of Lesotho stipulates that “no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment”.
“I am not aware of cases in which the DPP has prosecuted people who have tortured suspects,” Mda said.
He said the society by raising these issues was merely fulfilling its objective which was to assist in the administration of justice.
Mda said Lesotho was a signatory to several international conventions against torture and other cruel and degrading forms of punishment.
On charges that the Law Society was being run like a political party, Mda said it was in fact Thetsane who was behaving like a politician.
He said it was Thetsane who charged Lesotho Workers Party leader Macaefa Billy with sedition in 2007 when he was conducting his political duties.
“Tell me, who is behaving like a politician?” Mda asked.
Billy was however acquitted by the Court of Appeal last year.