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Judge fumes over court order saga

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Nat Molomo

MASERU — High Court judge Justice ’Maseforo Mahase breathed fire in court on Thursday after police boss Kizito Mhlakaza disobeyed her order to release controversial businessman Eyob Asemie.
The judge made the comment when Mhlakaza’s lawyers were trying to have the court order for his arrest rescinded on account that by the time it was issued Asemie was already out of police custody.
Justice Mahase had issued an interim court order for Mhlakaza’s arrest after he allegedly disobeyed her order to release Asemie.
On Thursday his lawyer was in court to explain why the court order should not be carried out.
But a seemingly irate Justice Mahase said she saw no reason to continue sitting on the bench if her orders were to be disobeyed.
“I am disturbed by some of the attitudes of parties in these proceedings,” Justice Mahase said.
“I wonder why I should proceed, or why I should be sitting here if at the end my orders are not obeyed,” she said.
“Why should I be sitting here?” the disturbed judge asked.
“The way that court orders are disobeyed in this country is out of hand. We are being vilified by every Tom, Dick and Harry and nobody is protecting us.”
Judge Mahase complained that even lawyers, some of whom comment over radio stations, do not protect the courts but contemptuously add to the insult.
The judge had ordered that Asemie be released after members of the police’s Special Operations Unit arrested and kept him in custody without charge.
Despite the court order Mhlakaza allegedly ordered that Asemie be kept in custody.
Court papers show that Mhlakaza allegedly ordered his subordinates to keep Asemie in custody “until he otherwise directed” despite that the court order demanded his immediate release.
In his affidavit Asemie says the order for his release was received by a police lawyer, one Advocate Ntsane, who immediately informed Mhlakaza.
He says the commissioner “in my presence and where I was hearing the communication directed and ordered Advocate Ntsane not to release me until further notice”.
After that, Asemie says, Mhlakaza ignored calls from the officers and his lawyer Tekane Maqakachane.
Asemie says he spent the night at the police station and the next morning no officer attended to him.
He says Mhlakaza was not answering calls from anybody until at noon when Maqakachane moved a contempt of court application.
Maqakachane then got an interim order from Justice Mahase directing that Mhlakaza be arrested for contempt of court.

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