MASERU — A woman who was jailed for contempt of court by High Court judge Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase only to be released by another High Court judge early this month has filed an urgent appeal against her conviction.
‘Mamaphoesa Hoohlo was convicted and jailed for seven days on November 30 for contempt of court for allegedly disobeying a High Court order issued by Justice Mahase in March 2010.
The judge had ordered ‘Mamaphoesa to allow her former husband, Mphekeleli Hoohlo, access to their child.
When she failed to comply with the order, her husband resuscitated the case leading to Justice Mahase jailing her on November 30.
She was however controversially released on December 2 after Justice Semapo Peete issued an order for her release.
But in a fresh twist to the matter that suggested all was not well in the judiciary, Justice Mahase then cancelled Justice Peete’s order and reinstated her earlier order on December 3.
It is this latest order that ‘Mamaphoesa has now filed an urgent appeal against in the Court of Appeal when it sits next month.
In her certificate of urgency, ‘Mamaphoesa said, “it is clear from the explanations given that what Her Ladyship Madam Justice Mahase J did is calculated to frustrate the ends of justice”.
“I am not satisfied with the judgment of the High Court and as a result, I have noted an appeal to the Court of Appeal . . . It will be clear that the judge is bent on rendering the machinery of justice ineffective by denying me a fair opportunity to be heard in my appeal against her decision,” ‘Mamaphoesa said.
She said she has good reasons to believe her appeal will succeed in the Court of Appeal.
“This should justify my having to be released from prison pending finalisation of the appeal. I aver that the Court of Appeal might have a different view from the High Court regard being had to the grounds annexed.”
She added: “I aver that none of the respondents will suffer prejudice if I am released from prison and I accordingly pray that the balance of hardship favours my release pending appeal.”
‘Mamaphoesa said if the court follows the normal periods required by the rules of the court she would suffer “untold prejudice and her appeal will be made nugatory”.
“Should the normal periods prescribed by the rules be followed, I will not be afforded substantial relief and a fair hearing in due course in as much as by the time the matter is disposed of, I will have served the full period of imprisonment against which I am appealing,” she said.
“I wish to inform the Honourable Court that it is clear that had the judge waited for the decision of this Honourable Court in C of A (CIV) No. 41/2012, true justice would be accomplished and the first respondent would not suffer any prejudice by having to wait for the next session to have the appeal heard.
“What she did was clearly to frustrate the hearing of the appeal and to render it nugatory,” she said.
‘Mamaphoesa also said Justice Mahase erred and misdirected “herself in granting the application for contempt when there was a clear dispute of fact on the essential aspect of the order, namely, whether” she denied her former husband access to the child.
“The learned judge ought to have ordered viva voce (by word of mouth) evidence on this aspect and not to have granted the application,” she said.
She also said the judge erred and misdirected herself when she granted the application for contempt when it was clear in the paper that the applicant had failed to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt.
The Court of Appeal is set to hear the matter next month.