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Sakoane questions apex court order

Mohloai Mpesi

Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane has decided to distance himself from the directive of the apex court of law in the country for him to relinquish his powers unto his junior Registrar of the High Court, ‘Mathato Sekoai.

He said acceding to the order would be tantamount to denouncing his statutory functions to the registrar.

The Court of Appeal had last Friday released an order which was read by President Kananelo Mosito that Sakoane should recuse himself from the matter and that Sekoai allocates the matter to another judge.

This is the matter in which the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Hlalefang Motinyane appealed against Sakoane’s order earlier this year for the dismissal of her application to recuse himself from the matter after he (Sakoane) expelled her lead prosecutor Advocate Shaun Abrahams from the matter.

The accused in the matter are the former army commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kennedy Kamoli, Litekanyo Nyakane, Motloheloa Ntsane, Leutsoa Motsieloa, Mothetjoa Metsing and Selibe Mochoboroane for allegedly trying to topple the 2014 Motsoahae Thomas Thabane regime.

Mosito’s order was that the sanction of Abrahams is put aside along with Sakoane’s refusal to recuse himself from the case for avoidance of doubt.

“In the result, the appeal succeeds. Accordingly, the order of this Court is: the judgment, order and sanction of the court a quo under section 12(4) (b) and (c) of the Speedy Court Trials Act 2002 (No. 9of 2002) dated 17 January 2022 is set aside.

“The judgment and order of the Honourable Chief Justice in the court a quo refusing to recuse himself from adjudicating the trial of the respondents in Case No. CRI/T/0001/2018 be and is set aside with the result, for the avoidance of doubt, that the Honourable Chief Justice shall not preside in that matter.

“The trial of the respondents under CRI/T/0001/2018 shall be allocated by the Registrar to another judge who may be a judge recruited for the purpose from outside the jurisdiction or any other judge of the High Court of the Kingdom of Lesotho,” the order reads.

However, Sakoane this week rejected the order saying that the Appeal Court had misdirected itself.

“The Court of Appeal is saying I should delegate my functions to the Registrar to allocate the case. Are you aware of the implications of that?

“Section 12 is very clear that the Chief Justice shall regulate the distribution of business in the court and all actions and proceedings before court shall be heard and determined by single judge unless otherwise the Chief Justice directs,” he said.

He said the Administration of Judiciary Act of 2011 states that the functions of the registrar do not include what the Court of appeal has said in the order.

“But I leave it to the Registrar and the Court of Appeal to sort out, what I cannot do is to contravene the law of parliament myself.

“So what I am going to do here is just excuse myself from allocating the case, I have nothing to do with what the Court of Appeal and the Registrar is supposed to do, I just stick by the law.  I stick to my statutory functions, the law of this country says I am the one who distributes business of this court but in the light of this order I am just going to excuse myself from reallocating the case.

“Initially I was minded not to come to court about the matter but on mature reflection I thought for the record so that the nation should know I am not going to rubber stamp what the Court of Appeal has said, because that would be abdicating my statutory functions,” he said.  

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