Advocate Thulo Hoeane this week attacked the Court of Appeal charging that it is ‘bullying’ the High Court.
He noted that he was making the clarion call as a concerned Mosotho man.
Hoeane was accompanied by Thabiso Tšasane and Mohlomi Sello.
He tabled a litany of ‘irregularities’ in procedure by the Apex Court when dealing with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) power struggle case appealed before the said court.
The lawyer who abandoned orders was granted by the Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase last Friday when grilled by a panel of Appeal Court Judges charged that despite both the High and Appeal Courts independence, the Appeal Court is seen to be ‘bullying’, instructing and or micro-managing the High Court, making reference to the Lehana and three others verses ABC case which has been remitted back to the High Court.
Hoeane was given a default judgement in an ex parte (one sided) application that he filed in the High Court on behalf of his clients, Motseki Lefera, ’Matumisang Ntiisa and Martha Makhohlisa challenging the legitimacy of the ABC elective conference which was held at Lehakoe in Maseru on February 1 and 2.
The judgement nullified the party’s February 1 and 2, 2019 elective conference, granted the ‘old’ ABC national executive committee interim to remain in office and ordered for a constitutional reform of the party.
Hoeane noted that they were raising their concerns regarding the ‘recent developments’ surrounding the Court of Appeal of Lesotho specifically with the matter in which this Apex Court has been conducting its business.
“We sincerely and unequivocally hereby sound a clarion to the nation at large about the following matters which we believe not only prejudice and compromise the rule of law, but are detrimental to the entre administration of justice in this country,” he said.
He added that in the last two Court of Appeal sessions, April and May 2019, they witnessed regrettable procedures.
“We have regrettably witnessed a litany of procedural and substantive derogations from the accepted norms that govern the administrative, and judicial functions of this court which can be outlined in the following manner. A case in point is the just completed matter of Lehana and others, wherein the applicants in this High Court were challenging the propriety of the ABC elections held on February 1 and 2, 2019.”
Hoeane charged that the Court of Appeal in the matter went ahead to entertain and hear the matter notwithstanding the fact that no leave to appeal had been sought from the High Court in terms of Section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act.
“This is a flagrant departure from the way this court has been functioning over the years, and the least that can be said about this. This is a regrettable conduct from the court that is supposed to be the last custodian of justice in this country.
“The Court of Appeal having heard this matter under these bizarre and questionable circumstances then hurriedly went on to issue orders the net effect of which is to micro-manage the High Court by ordering that the matter be remitted to the High Court, and that the matter be heard by a different judge which in effect interferes with the administrative powers of the Chief Justice contrary to Section 5 of the High Court of 1978, which vests those powers exclusively in the Chief Justice,” he charged, stressing that the Appeal Court wants to order the High Court around.
“This forced recusal – for want of a better expression- of the Chief Justice from the matter was undertaken notwithstanding that no such prayer was ever put before the Court of Appeal by any of the respondents in this matter. Recusal as an issue was never canvassed before the Court of Appeal, and it is unheard of in this jurisdiction for any court- let alone the Court of Appeal to grant relief that none of the parties before it is seeking,” Hoeane said adding there was also no Notice of Appeal served on the High Court and grounds of appeal by the respondents.
“It defies logic and elementary understanding of the law why and on what grounds the Appeal Court went on to entertain this matter.
“Another shocking development is that while all judgements in all other matters before the Court of Appeal are scheduled to be delivered on May 31, judgement in this matter – the remittance to the High Court was fast tracked such that the matter was heard in one day and judgement delivered way into the night.
“This is unprecedented and leaves many questions unanswered about such ‘speed of sound justice’. We wish to raise our concerns further that the High Court which had postponed this matter to June 14 saw it fit to fast track this matter and bring it forward to May 28, thus imposing time frames on the High Court and usurping the powers of the Chief Justice,” the lawyer lashed.
In his raging statement Hoeane siad that the President of the Appeal Court, Justice Kananelo Mosito was conflicted in the matter thus in proficiency needed to have recused himself from the case.
“It is common cause and indisputable that Professor (Nqosa) Mahao and Mosito, Advocate Thabane and Advocate Matee are inextricably linked to the National University of Lesotho and under the circumstances, the right and proper thing for Justice Mosito to have done was to have recused himself from any matters involving Professor Mahao et al.
“We condemn in the strongest terms possible these developments and humbly implore the government of Lesotho to take a second look at the Court of Appeal which we believe has gone off the rails,” Hoeane said.