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Court paves way for businessman’s freedom


molefi nthloki
Molefi Nthloki

Nat Molomo

MASERU — Local businessman Jessie Ramakatane is set to return to Lesotho a free man after a bid to have him extradited from South Africa flopped.

This follows a ruling delivered by the High Court judge Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane on Thursday that Ramakatane should not return to Lesotho under government’s extradition application to the South African government.

The ruling paves the way for Ramakatane to come home a freely after Justice Hlajoane said: “Every allegation needed proof and without such proof . . . the allegations stand to be disregarded.”

The court ruling granted all prayers requested by Ramakatane in his application.

Represented by attorney Molefi Ntlhoki, Ramakatane had asked the court for an order directing the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), the Attorney-General, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Law and Constitutional Affairs to cancel a warrant leading to his extradition from South Africa into Lesotho.

He also wanted to be pardoned for any offence which led to his seeking asylum in South Africa which could warrant extradition.

“The prayers as contained in the notice of motion are granted as prayed for with costs,” the judge said.

The court noted that it is common knowledge that in 2007 Ramakatane fled to South Africa seeking political asylum.

He was not alone but was with Ford Sekamane, Thabiso Mahase, Lefa David “Maker” Ramantsoe and ’Malefa Mapheleba.

The judge further noted that it is not in dispute that last the new government came into power and the four people mentioned came to Lesotho the same year after they had been pardoned or granted amnesty.

“It is the common understanding that the pardon was not a legal pardon but a political decision that was adopted by the new government,” the judge said.

According to the court the respondents (Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney-General, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of  Law and Constitutional Affairs, in their papers in describing the kind of pardon that was given, said the government had made a political decision that would allow all the people that had fled the country to come back.

And that general forgiveness was inclusive of Ramakatane.

“It therefore goes without saying that in politically related incidences, the applicant is forgiven,” the judge said.

The court also observed in answering papers that the DPP had attached a charge sheet containing 19 counts of offences alleged to have been committed during 2007 by Ramakatane, Ramantsoe who was pardoned in 2012, and Mahase also pardoned in 2012.

But the respondents, in their opposing papers, had shown that Mahase and Sekamane, whom Ramakatane alleges were allowed to return home, had not been granted amnesty.

According to the judge this contradicts the argument that there was a political decision by the new government to pardon to these people.

According to the judgment, the crown had shown that Ramakatane was again involved in some criminal activities that took place in 2009 affecting the security of former head of government.

However, Ramakatane’s lawyer had submitted that there had not been iota of evidence for his client’s involvement in the 2009 incident as was the case with 2007 allegations.

The judge said the DPP’s had just made bare allegations without proof.

Justice Hlajoane said the position of the law is clear on discrimination.

She said Ramakatane should not to be treated differently from others who had been pardoned through a political decision on similar acts.

“As for the acts of 2009, there has only been a bare allegation which has not been substantiated by proof of any documentation as has been the case with the events of 2007,” the court said.

“Under the circumstances the court feels bound not to accept the allegations for events of 2009,” she said.

The Judge said even if such allegations were to be considered, the respondents had shown that the all-inclusive forgiveness behind the political amnesty also covered Ramakatane.


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