Unprecedented decision laudable

The High Court yesterday made an unprecedented decision which resulted in a high-powered delegation led by the sitting judge, visiting the home of a suspect to verify information provided by his legal representative.

After the prosecution had questioned the credibility of a doctor’s report regarding the status of former Natural Resources Minister, Mr Monyane Moleleki, Acting Chief Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi then made a ruling which has since become a major talking point among Basotho.

That Mr Moleleki is facing serious corruption charges emanating from his alleged fraudulent issuance of prospecting licences to Mafeteng-based Refela Holdings, appears to have been forgotten in the heat of what is proving to be a very divisive debate.

What has now taken centre-stage is whether the court was correct to order the visit to Mr Moleleki’s Qoatsaneng home for the confirmation exercise.
The issue has since ceased to be a legal debate but a political battlefield through which various parties are hoping to score points and steal the limelight.
Human rights activists have also joined the fray, arguing by visiting the apparently ailing 61-year-old politician at his home, the court has violated Mr Moleleki’s rights.
Yet emotions aside, Justice Monaphathi’s decision deserves praise for it put to rest, the prosecution’s doubts concerning the former minister’s condition.

Yesterday was not the first time the prosecution had questioned the credibility of the doctor’s report regarding Mr Moleleki’s status, hence our welcome of Justice Monaphathi’s expedition to Qoatsaneng.
One of the many attacks levelled at Lesotho’s judiciary is the long backlog of court cases, and the lengthy period it takes for a trial to be concluded.
Two years ago, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) issued a damning report on the country’s judiciary, which highlighted corruption and lack of professionalism among the problems bedevilling the justice delivery system.

The report, compiled by American professor, Dr Rachael Ellett, was presented at a stakeholders’ workshop held in Maseru in July last year, and while not everyone agreed with its contents, it still brought to the fore some of the challenges facing Lesotho’s justice system.

The Acting Chief Justice’s decision yesterday regarding Moleleki might not have sat down well with certain communities, but it still showed unparalleled determination to ensure the case is dealt with once and for all.
It is our sincere hope that this work ethic exhibited by the judge is emulated by the entire judiciary because the speedy resolution of cases is what characterises an efficient justice system.
Critics of what happened yesterday argue the High Court only showed this urgency because of the high profile nature of the suspect involved.

Hopefully, the courts will prove these detractors wrong by handling every case with the same urgency Justice Monaphathi treated Mr Moleleki’s situation yesterday.
As they say, “Justice delayed is justice denied” and the good judge took the bull by the horns to ensure this maxim does not ring true in our judiciary.
Mr Moleleki, just like every other citizen of this country, ought to have his day in court and answer the charges levelled against him. Had Justice Monaphathi taken Mr Moleleki’s doctor’s note at face value, allegations of preferential treatment, which were already emerging from some quarters, would have gathered momentum, hence our support for his action yesterday.

 

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