Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Top lawyers back Ramodibedi

Published on May 10, 2013   ·   6 Comments

on_Mathealira Michael Ramodibedi


By Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

MASERU – A group of senior lawyers on Wednesday this week backed Court of Appeal president, Justice Mathealira Michael Ramodibedi’s refusal to succumb to government pressure to resign.

The lawyers, Molefi Ntlhoki, Zwelakhe Mda, Salemane Phafane, Sakoane Sakoane, Motia Teele, Letuka Molati, Karabo Mohau and Qhalehang Letsika told Prime Minister Dr Motsoahae Thabane in a statement government’s directive for Justice Ramodibedi to step down was unconstitutional.

The lawyers warned the removal of any judge from the bench could only be sanctioned by the Constitution of Lesotho.

Their statement is also copied to Law and Constitutional Affairs Minister Haae Phoofolo, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Mophato Monyake, Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe and Ramodibedi.

The statement is further copied to the Law Society, Diplomatic Missions in Lesotho, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Lawyers’ Association, Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association, International Commission of Jurists and the Media Institute of Southern Africa – Lesotho.

The lawyers indicated they had discovered “with a sense of dismay and shock” that Justice Ramodibedi was recently ordered to resign for allegedly being responsible for the mess in the judiciary.

Ramodibedi is said to have been requested to quit his job by Thabane, in the presence of Phoofolo and Monyake, on April 22 this year.

The lawyers said: “While we acknowledge that there are problems in the judiciary, and that there is need to reform and to address such problems which are systematic in nature, we reject and despise as unconstitutional, the approach taken by the government of Lesotho by requesting or demanding that a sitting judicial officer should resign.”

They added there was no other extra-constitutional procedure for impeaching judicial officers recognised in Lesotho, “given the ethos and values to which Lesotho bound herself”.

“Government should discharge its constitutional obligations as fully set out in Section 118 (3), by protecting and according the judiciary such assistance as the courts may require to enable them to protect their independence, dignity and effectiveness, instead of being the first one to make this important organ of state vulnerable.”

The lawyers said the protection and safeguarding of the rights of all the country’s citizens, depended on a strong judiciary that is able to dispense justice without fear or favour.

“We share and support the position of Justice Ramodibedi in refusing to submit to pressure to resign as this is not only unconstitutional, but will create a wrong impression and bad precedent for our fragile and fledgling democracy,” noted the lawyers.

They called upon the government to refrain and avoid acts that may tend to suggest that courts of law were useless or manned by people that could easily be removed.

The courts were manned by professionals who have sacrificed their personal and professional lives to protect human rights and uphold the rule of law, the lawyers also noted.

“These are legal professionals who decided to accept appointments to serve the Basotho nation and its people in resolving their disputes without fear or favour.”

The government’s order that Ramodibedi resigns was likely to spark an unnecessary constitutional crisis, the lawyers indicated, calling on the authorities to “redress” their actions.

The lawyers also criticised government’s directive to stop the payment of allowances due and payable to Justice Ramodibedi.

“We have been dismayed by the directives given to the Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal and the Commissioner of Police, emanating from the government, that Justice Ramodibedi should be deprived of the vehicles entrusted to his office for use by being deprived of same by sheer force from him if he does not surrender them,” they noted.

They added it was an internationally accepted principle of constitutional and international law that judicial officers’ salaries and benefits, cannot be altered to their prejudice.

“It is therefore unthinkable that they can be withdrawn altogether,” the lawyers charged.

Number of Comments(6)

  1. Molefi ka Natala says:

    ntate Thabane, mona le mafufa ha li fele. sebetsa ka toka u iqobele molao.

  2. ntjakoebela says:

    Everyone is creating a storm out of nothing especially when these so called top lawyers were silent during scuffles between Ramodibedi and Lehohla. They are merely advertising themselves. Ramodibeli is on the wayj for maladministration and possibly fraud, whether they like it or not.

  3. six says:

    how sad it is to try and explain to fools like ntjakoebela. brother go and get a legal adviser to clarify this constitutional matter, for ur brains are as weak as an unborn baby so to understand this issue.

  4. small lawyer says:

    the so called top lawyers are missing the point to a certain extent,while i also alighn myself with their utterance in as far as concept of judicial independence is concerned, i think on this issue there is no serious threat as this was an advice (there is nothing like a directive to resighn as that could be dismissal but there is advice to resign). why didnt they utter the same advice when Chief Justice was given the same advice? Ramodibedi refused to take the advice, ofcourse he had a right to take an advice or reject it.
    top lawyers ako le qaleng le eletse Motiea Teele about the state he is putting our judiciary into by practicing and presiding over cases. that in itself blurs independence and impartiality, ur fellow learned friends get intimidated when arguing cases with you while the following week they will be arguing before you. ntate Mda please stop behavig like u r part of law society ka ho ba tsamaisa ka remote ole ka thoko.ntate Letsika wena and some of ur colleagues are to blame for NUL fuculty of Law state of affairs and u just turned ur back and left while it was ur turn as the dean to try and sort out the messy situation, u were busy practicing while not properly attending clases contrary to university regulation, but today u tseba ho tsoaea liphoso? the less said about ntate phafane the better. the only people whom i kno hore they are being genuine and have always upheld the rule of law are KK Mohau (safe for practing contrary to university regulation) but u r the man of intergrity. Letuka Molati you are coming up brightly gentleman, just be careful who u alighn urself with, i know some of these statements u can attest to.

  5. ntsetselane says:

    he is prominent in causing this mayhem in the judiciary; these so called top lawyers were silent when the issue that he conducted swearing for the judge of appeal whilst he has no such powers that are explicitly stated that they bestowed in the cj who runs both judicial tech issues and administration whilst on the contrary Mr ramolibeli is just a visitor at the judiciary

  6. Prince says:

    Small lawyer, that what you think is an advice, is unconstitutional and renders an offence to our constitution. lets just say it was an innocent advice, why was his security and cars withdrawn????

    Stop playing games and perpetrating nonsense in this country. sin is sin irrespective of who does it. Ntate Thabane you should know better.

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