Home NewsLocal Judge accused of sexual harassment

Judge accused of sexual harassment

by webmaster
0 comment

Staff Reporter

MASERU — Lesotho Court of Appeal President Justice Michael Ramodibedi (pictured below) has been accused of sexually harassing five colleagues in the Swaziland High Court where he is also chief justice.
The Law Society of Swaziland filed the case against Justice Ramodibedi with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Wednesday, calling for his immediate removal as the country’s chief justice.
The JSC is responsible for appointing judges.
The law society said the case against Justice Ramodibedi was based on complaints from five female court workers.
“Justice Ramodibedi has conducted himself in an inappropriate manner towards female employees of the High Court of Swaziland,” the society’s complaint said according to AFP, a news agency.
“There is prima facie evidence that the chief justice is guilty of charges of sexual harassment,” the complaint said.
The allegations add to Justice Ramodibedi’s troubles that began a fortnight ago after he suspended Justice Thomas Masuku, a High Court judge, for allegedly “insulting” King Mswati III in a 2010 judgment.
He also accused Justice Masuku of having an affair with a fellow judge, insubordination and supporting regime change forces that are calling for democratic reforms in Swaziland.
That decision has however brought him on collision course with Swazi lawyers and civic groups which accuse him of bringing the judiciary into disrepute.
On July 6 the lawyers passed a resolution calling for his removal.
And on July 8 they boycotted the courts insisting that Justice Ramodibedi must go because “he is not fit” to be the chief justice.
The lawyers only resumed work on Thursday.
But it is the allegations of sexual harassment that could be the biggest threat to Justice Ramodibedi’s position.
The pressure on him to step down comes barely two months after he was brought in by King Mswati III to become the country’s chief justice.
In those two months he has had to fend off allegations that he is marginalising competent judges like Justice Masuku and abusing his newly-found authority.
He has also been accused of allowing himself to be used as a hatchet man against King Mswati III’s critics.
Soon after his appointment Justice Ramodibedi issued a directive prohibiting anyone from suing the king “directly or indirectly”.
That order has been roundly criticised by lawyers and civic groups as unconstitutional and an assault on the rule of law.
The sexual harassment allegations could further damage the reputation that Justice Ramodibedi has built as a clean judge.
It is that reputation that has helped him land senior judicial positions in Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and the Seychelles.
The JSC, for which Ramodibedi is also chairman, immediately banned a Swazi newspaper from reporting on the sexual harassment case.
The Times of Swaziland, the Kingdom’s biggest daily, reported on Friday that it had received a court injunction barring it from reporting on the allegations levelled against Justice Ramodibedi.
The order said the paper should not report the contents of the complaint until the JSC has “deliberated and concluded the matter”.
“The respondents and/or anyone acting in concert with them and/or anyone acting in furtherance of a common purpose with them are hereby interdicted and restrained from printing and/or publishing and/or distributing contents of the said letter,” said the gag order.
Apart from the allegations that he behaved inappropriately towards female colleagues the law society has also accused Justice Ramodibedi of living large on state funds.
He is alleged to have made unauthorised trips to Pretoria and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.
The society alleges that during those trips his chauffeur was never paid any travel allowance for being out of the country.
“The chief justice has acted in breach of his duty of good faith towards the judiciary by determining and setting excessive and unjustifiable allowances for members of the judiciary sitting as judges of the Industrial Court of Appeal,” said the society, according to the Times of Swaziland.
Justice Ramodibedi, the society claimed, had failed to prudently manage the financial affairs of the High Court.
He is further accused of abusing state resources in that he rejected a government issued Mercedes Benz and allocated himself a BMW 750i.
The society argues that Justice Ramodibedi has breached his conditions of service which entitle him to only one vehicle.
It said this has not only prejudiced the judiciary but also the government.
Justice Ramodibedi was expected in Maseru on Friday to hear a case in which MKM is fighting its liquidation.

You may also like

Sunday Express

Lesotho’s widely read newspaper. Published every Sunday.

More News

Laest News

@2024 – Sunday Express. All Rights Reserved.