Lesotho

Judicial appointments’ problems spread like a virus

Like a rampaging judicial virus, political and other problems are infecting the process of appointing judges in a number of African countries. And there’s no vaccine or any other easy solution in sight. Developments in Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Kenya – and then, out of the blue last week, South Africa – all point to serious problems about the process of judicial appointments. Here’s a guide to the symptoms of this particular virus.

Lesotho

Magistrate correct to have woman imprisoned for contempt over child access - Lesotho high court

A mother was found to have committed contempt of court by disobeying an order about child-access, shared with her ex-husband, and she was sent to prison. She later claimed the magistrate had wrongly ordered her imprisonment and she demanded financial compensation for alleged constitutional damages. But the high court in Lesotho has now found the mother was the one in the wrong, not the magistrate, and applauded the magistrate for protecting the dignity and effectiveness of the courts.

Read judgment

The facts that gave rise to this case speak of a woman who flagrantly disobeyed the court and refused to back down. (Because a child is involved, the mother, who was the applicant in this case, is not being named here, being merely referred to by her initials.)

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.

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