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Judge tells lawyer off over delays

Nat Molomo


MASERU — A lawyer representing a South African national facing four counts of murder and two of attempted murder was on Thursday rebuked by Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane for wasting the court’s time.

“I expected you to come with your prepared heads of argument,” Judge Makhooane told defence lawyer Chris Lephuthing.

Lephuthing, who is representing South African national Mpumelelo Mbobo, had told the High Court he had not finished preparing his heads of argument because he was busy with another case.

He was expected to submit his heads of argument on Thursday for an application to have his client acquitted on account that the crown had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Mbobo is alleged to have fatally shot Charles Mofo, ‘Malimakatso Mofo, Kefiloe Molise and Seetsa Majara on October 13 2002 at Morifi in Mohale’s Hoek.

The crown alleges the suspect also shot and injured two other people.

Mbobo had allegedly crossed into Lesotho from his farm in South Africa.

A seemingly irate Justice Chaka-Makhooane said: “Was it not for the same reason (incomplete heads of argument) we postponed this matter yesterday?

“We postponed for your benefit. I still need to sit here and find out why you have not prepared your heads.”

On Wednesday afternoon after the crown closed its case, Lephuthing had immediately risen to apply for the discharge of the accused.

The judge advised the defence lawyer to go and prepare his heads of argument.

But when Lephuthing returned to court the next day he was unprepared.

“The position of the law is such that the court has to ask itself whether on or not on the basis of evidence adduced by crown prima facie case exists on which a reasonable court can convict,” Judge Chaka-Makhoane said.

After that Lephuthing suggested that the case should continue until today.

But that only angered the judge.

“I am totally reluctant to postpone. My diary for 2010 is full. We have today (Thursday) and tomorrow, now you suggest Sunday,” the judge said.

“I am frustrated by the pace at which we have been going. This is a criminal matter which is part-heard.

“I am totally displeased. I feel very cornered. We had a week but we did not do anything.”

Eventually she agreed to postpone the matter to August 30.

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