Temporary relief for Mosito
THE Law Society of Lesotho yesterday obtained an interim High Court order preventing King Letsie III from accepting a report on the impeachment tribunal against suspended Court of Appeal President Justice Kananelo Mosito.
The interim order operates until the main application by the Law Society of Lesotho challenging the proceedings of the three-member tribunal is finalised.
The tribunal is comprised of chairperson Justice Frederik Daniel Jacobus Brand, Justice Noel Victor Hurt, and Justice John Godfrey Foxcroft all from South Africa.
It was appointed by King Letsie III in February this year, at the advice of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, to investigate Justice Mosito who is accused of failing to pay income tax between 1996 and 2014. Justice Mosito was appointed Court of Appeal president in January 2015.
The tribunal completed its proceedings on Thursday last week and was only left with submitting its report to the King. The report is expected to include a recommendation to the King on whether Justice Mosito should remain in his position or be dismissed.
However, the interim order interdicts the King “from receiving and\or acting upon the advice given by the first to third respondents pending finalisation of this application”. Justices Brand, Hurt and Foxcroft are first to third respondents respectively in the application.
High Court judge Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo also granted an interim order interdicting the tribunal from handing over to the King the report and advice in terms of section 125 of Lesotho’s constitution.
Justice Momngcongo also ordered Justice Brand to dispatch the record of the tribunal proceedings to the Registrar of the High Court.
Other respondents in the case are the Attorney-General King’s Counsel Tšokolo Makhethe, Justice Mosito and the King as fourth to six respondents respectively.
In the main application, the Law Society of Lesotho wants the High Court to grant an order “reviewing, correcting and setting aside” the proceedings and decisions of the tribunal.
The society alleges there were irregularities during the tribunal, in which tempers flared after Justice Brand kept on interjecting when Justice Mosito’s lawyer, Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai, was speaking.
Law Society of Lesotho’s newly-elected president Attorney Tumisang Mosotho made an affidavit to support their case.
“On the 19th and 20th days of October 2016, I attended the tribunal proceedings’ sittings.
“I observed the proceedings and formed the opinion that they were a quintessential failure of proper administration of justice in a wide variety of ways.
“First, the proceedings were riddled with illegalities, irrationalities and gross irregularities.”
He argues the submission of Justice Mosito’s tax information violated the suspended Court of Appeal president’s right to privacy.
“Confidential tax information documents, admittedly obtained from the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) for use in allegedly contemplated criminal proceedings and without leave of court as required by the provisions of section 202 of the Income Tax Act 1993, were, despite objections (by the 5th respondent and his counsel), on grounds of illegality, used by the tribunal and read by the chairman of the tribunal into the record,” says Attorney Mosotho.
“The section requires leave of a competent court to be first obtained before such information could be used, but the tribunal disregarded all this. This will be clear from the record of the tribunal.”
Attorney Mosotho also challenges the tribunal on the ground of irregularity.
“The tribunal decided to proceed with the hearing against the 5th respondent (Justice Mosito) despite the fact that there was no evidence brought by the Lesotho Revenue Authority.
“This decision was so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible tribunal or person who had applied his/her mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at.”
He further argues it was wrong for the tribunal to continue with the proceedings even after Justice Mosito had filed an application before the High Court challenging the same proceedings.
Justice Mosito has a pending application before the High Court in which he wants the proceedings of the tribunal against him to be reviewed and set aside.
However, Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara on Wednesday last week refused to grant the interim order to treat the case as an urgent matter.
She also refused to stay the proceedings of the tribunal that were ongoing last week.