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Judicial disciplinary body tells Chief Justice to retract, apologise for pro-Israel comments critical of government policy

South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has been told to issue an apology and a retraction for a series of highly controversial comments he made in the middle of last year, criticising Pretoria’s policy on Israel. The decision plus the ‘remedial steps’ of apology and retraction were issued this week by the Judicial Conduct Committee of SA’s Judicial Service Commission. After a mid-2020 interview and subsequent comments defending the views he expressed, several official complaints were made to the JSC.

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The controversy began when South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng took part in a webinar with SA’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein. The event, in June 2020, was hosted by the Jerusalem Post and was headlined: Two Chiefs, One Mission – confronting apartheid of the heart’.

Shock report by Malawi's ombud finds maladministration, corruption behind decision to bring in SA legal team

In a report handed down with commendable promptness, Malawi’s ombudsperson, Martha Chizuma, has found that the procurement of a team of South African lawyers to handle a crucial election appeal by the then-government of Malawi in 2020, amounted to maladministration and an abuse of power. Her shock report made a number of significant findings on this issue, with orders of tough remedial action – but also dealt with several unexpected additional findings of maladministration that had crept into official government appointment practice.

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When Malawi’s then government, under the country’s former President, Peter Mutharika, lost its initial attempt to persuade the courts that the 2019 election was valid, it launched an appeal. But who would argue the case for the government?

Is 'sting' of saluting former subordinates sufficient punishment, high court asked

When a formerly high-ranking Namibian prison official won a high court battle over his salary it was a wake-up call for governments keen to ensure that corruption and other crime is properly punished within the ranks of the civil service. The message is: check your legislation because it might not be as water-tight as you thought. In this case, the assistant commissioner of correctional services pleaded guilty to the theft of a mobile phone at a disciplinary inquiry and was demoted to the rank of senior superintendent as a punishment.

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The facts of the matter were not in dispute: the assistant commissioner of correctional services in Namibia, Tjiuovioje Kahimise, was found by a disciplinary inquiry to have stolen a mobile phone, after he admitted doing so. As punishment, he was demoted from his position as assistant commissioner to the rank of a mere senior superintendent.

Court finds award of two Namibian farms, aimed at land reform, tainted by corruption and irregularities

An official decision awarding two farms to a business venture that had not even applied to be allotted them, has been set aside by Namibia’s high court. Judge Harold Geier said that the original decision had to be scrapped because one of the decision-makers had not recused himself even though he had an interest in the matter, being a manager of one of the business entities under consideration. It was an offence not to declare one’s interest in such a case, and recuse oneself, and could result in a fine and prison sentence.

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The facts that emerged from Judge Harald Geier’s decision read like a good governance nightmare.

Int'l law firm suggests expelling Tanzania from Commonwealth over Covid denialism

As local and international concern grows over the Tanzanian government’s handling of Covid-19, a major international law firm has written to the Commonwealth Secretariat, suggesting that the time had come to consider expelling Tanzania from the Commonwealth. International human rights specialist firm, Amsterdam & Partners, said this was because, due to the policies of its president, John Magufuli, Tanzania was not living up to its undertakings as a member of the Commonwealth.

There is one country in the world where the president made international headlines because it appears he might have ‘admitted’ that Covid-19 actual ‘exists’ after all. That country is Tanzania; that president is John Magufuli.

His equivocal ‘admission’ was made at a funeral on Friday. John Kijazi, head of the country’s civil service, had died a few days before. Speaking at his funeral, Magufuli spoke of the cause of death as being ‘the respiratory disease’.

Lesotho’s Minister of Law and Justice sues over allegations he helped fabricate evidence in murder case against former PM, Thomas Thabane

It has been a very busy few weeks in Lesotho. Included in these developments was a major cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, as well as the launch of new politically-charged court cases. Among the most interesting of these cases is a defamation action brought by the minister of law and justice,  Nqosa Mahao. In a newly-filed case he seeks to challenge a newspaper story that carried allegations against him made by a senior police officer.

For some time, there have been rumblings in Lesotho: given the allegedly water-tight case implicating former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in the murder of his former wife, why had he still not been charged? Included in this evidence was said to be the ‘fact’ that his own mobile phone was used at the site of the murder.

'Catastrophic' Nigerian oil pollution case may be heard in the UK - Supreme Court

Two Nigerian communities, hard hit through the devastation of their environment by oil spills, have won a legal victory in the UK supreme court that could have wide-reaching effects not only on their own situation, but in similar cases in future. The communities have been trying to sue Royal Dutch Shell for alleged negligence in Nigeria that has led to the severe pollution of their traditional lands.

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Given all that has been written about the plight of the Niger delta communities overwhelmed with pollution caused by more than 50 years of oil operations, it is hard to choose the best - or worst - example to illustrate the disaster’s scale, and thus show why the new judgment is so important.

Which set of lawyers has the duty of care when an ‘impersonator’ makes off with the money paid by a would-be buyer?

Suppose a law firm draws up a land sale agreement between a client ‘well known to them’ and an outside party, and one of its lawyers witnesses the agreement, accompanies the parties to the bank and witnesses the payment of the funds to that same client.

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When Barbara Namayega bought land in Kampala she had no idea she would soon land in deep trouble, paying the full sale price to someone who had merely ‘impersonated’ the owner and thus conned her out of her money. Indignant and determined to get her money back, she has now sued the lawyer who drafted and witnessed the sale agreement.

Judge sets new Malawi benchmark in child rape case

Against the background of a sharp and disturbing rise in the rape of children in Malawi (a problem in a number of other jurisdictions as well), a prominent high court judge has delivered a decision setting a new benchmark for sentence and judicial comment in response to such crimes. His important new judgment comes as police in Malawi have released new rape statistics showing that the number of young girls raped (or ‘defiled’ in terms of Malawi’s law) is far higher than the number of adult women raped.

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Malawi’s Judge Redson Kapindu is used to expressing controversial views on the law. As a law lecturer in South Africa, he had no hesitation in drafting insightful critiques of SA’s apex constitutional court. This was in his then capacity as law teacher at the University of Johannesburg, and as deputy director of the South African Institute for advanced constitutional, public, human right and international law.

Hotel owners refused another ‘bite at the cherry’ by Zambia’s supreme court

The supreme court of Zambia, involved in a dispute about damages following a bizarre defamation, have refused to consider an application brought under the slip rule. The court said the rule was intended to fix minor problems like dates, not allow litigants with a long list of complaints about the original judgment to have a ‘second bite at the cherry’ aimed at attempting to secure a more favourable outcome.

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The first thing to notice about this judgment is the way that it begins. It is not often that a court will point out that its decision has been sadly delayed, and offer a reason.

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