MASERU – Acting High Court judge Justice Lebohang Molete on Friday recused himself in a defamation case involving a senior judge and a Catholic-owned newspaper.
This effectively means the case will start afresh under a different judge to be allocated by the Chief Justice.
Justice Molete awarded M180 000 in damages to Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo in a default judgment on March 4 after the senior judge accused the Moeletsi oa Basotho newspaper of defaming him in articles published in 2009.
Justice Nomngcongo had demanded M1.5 million.
The editor of Moletsi oa Basotho, Reverend Maleke Mathibeli, through his lawyer Haae Phoofolo challenged the default judgment and asked Justice Molete to step down from the case on the grounds that Justice Nomncongo was his colleague and senior.
Lawyers for both Moletsi oa Basotho and Justice Nomngcongo confirmed the default judgment had been rescinded, allowing for Justice Molete’s recusal.
The acting judge had previously indicated the difficulty of recusing himself because the principal application was for rescission of a judgment he had made and could not be referred to another judge.
He however said his recusal could be possible if both parties agreed to a rescission of the default judgment to allow the case to start afresh under a new judge.
Phoofolo told the Sunday Express on Friday that they had met in chambers and the judge had agreed to recuse himself after the parties consented to a rescission of his default judgment.
Phoofolo said this effectively means the case will start afresh under a different judge yet to be allocated by the Chief Justice.
“This means we have to make some pleadings,” Phoofolo said.
Advocate Hopolang Nathane appearing for Justice Nomngcongo said a date for the new hearing was yet to be set.