The decision by Lesotho’s Acting Chief Justice to grant bail to the wife of that country’s Prime Minister, Tom Thabane, is to be challenged as an urgent matter in the apex court of appeal. Relatives of Thabane, including a grandson who shares his name, have lodged the appeal claiming the ACJ granted bail under ‘suspicious circumstances’. Thabane’s wife, Maesaiah Thabane, has been arrested by the police in connection with the murder of Thabane’s previous wife, Lipolelo. When she was asked to report to police for questioning, Maesaiah fled Lesotho to South Africa but later returned. The Thabane relatives are joined in their appeal by the survivor of the shooting, Thato Sibolla, who was in the vehicle with Lipolelo at the time that unknown gunmen open fire on it.
It has been a busy time for Uganda's judiciary, in the media for contrasting reasons. The judiciary put its collective foot down after police summonsed a magistrate in connection with a case he had heard and which the police were also investigating. In a strongly-worded statement the judiciary said that such actions were ‘irregular’ and that the police ‘cannot summon judicial officers to explain how they handle court cases.’ Another, more positive development, has seen the judiciary in discussion with the Refugee Law Project over holding court sessions in refugee camps starting as soon as next month. Uganda hosts about 1.4 milllion refugees, more than any other African country, and this step is seen as highly significant in offering refugees in camps better access to justice.
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has violated the constitution by not appointing judicial candidates whose names were given him by the Judicial Service Commission in the middle of last year. That's according to a finding of the country's Constitutional Court, which has held that the President plays only a ceremonial part in judicial appointments and was constitutionally obliged to enroll those chosen by the JSC. The judges said Kenyatta had no constituitonal power to 'review, reconsider or decline to appoint' those recommended by the JSC. The significant new decision follows many months of silence from the President in the wake of the JSC's recommendations for appointment. According to Kenyatta, who argued that he had the right and the duty to decide for himself whether the JSC nominations were appropriate, questions were raised about some of the candidates by the country's intelligence services. Rejecting this justification, the court said the appointment of judges 'should be immediate and as soon as recommendations are forwarded to him' by the JSC, and suggested that the process should take no longer than 14 days. The strongly-worded decision is the latest in an ongoing struggle between the President and the judiciary dating from at least 2017 when the Supreme Court annulled national elections and ordered a fresh round of voting across the country
In many African countries a special ceremony is held during January to mark the start of the official court year. No such tradition has yet developed in South Africa. But the 2020 legal year got off to a spectacular start all the same: the deputy judge president of the high court in one of SA's biggest provinces issued an affidavit making sensational claims against the judge president and his wife, who is also a judge in the same division. Now their battle has spread to other parts of the judiciary as well as the Judicial Service Commission which is supposed to deal with complaints involving judges. There are two major issues to note: first, the judge concerned already has an unresolved serious complaint against him from more than 10 years ago, with no sign that it might be heard, let alone finalised, any time soon; second, the JSC has a growing reputation for being unwilling or unable to manage disciplinary issues involving judges.
Malawi’s constitutional court has found the May 2019 national elections awarding presidential victory to Peter Mutharika, invalid. One of the most interesting aspects of this landmark judgment is the sense of judicial confidence that comes through in each of the well over 400 pages. There is no tentative digging in corners to find possible technical infringements. By the time they had gone through the evidence led by all the parties, the five judges of Malawi’s high court constitutional division were ready to bring out the big guns and find the integrity of the elections had been fatally undermined. This was not because of bribery and corruption (though alleged, these claims were not proved, said the court) but because of the way the checks and balances had been skewed, final reports constantly changed and over-written and voting records duplicated, to name just a few issues.