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Law Society cries foul over Ramodibedi order

Caswell Tlali

MASERU — The Law Society of Lesotho says ordering a judge to leave office leads to tyranny and a violation of the principal tenets of the rule of law.
The Law Society president Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai told the Sunday Express on Wednesday that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is not constitutionally empowered to direct a sitting judge to leave office.
Rasekoai said the Law Society council immediately resolved to assign him and two other council members to go on a fact finding mission before making an official statement on their stance on the matter.
The team is without the deputy president, Advocate Nkoya Thabane, because she is the Prime Minister’s daughter, Rasekoai said.
“The Prime Minister is not constitutionally empowered to direct a sitting judge to abdicate from office,” Rasekoai said.
“Any such endeavour on the part of any head of government would eventually lead to tyranny and a violation of the principal tenets of the rule of law,” he said.
Rasekoai said the Law Society council sought an urgent meeting with Justice Ramodibedi, Justice Minister Mophato Monyake and Law Minister Haae Phoofolo.”
“I was able to communicate with Justice Ramodibedi telephonically on the 30th April after I had been unfortunately informed that he was on his way to Swaziland where he is currently based as Chief Justice,” he said.
“He gave instructions to his secretary to give to the Law Society council a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and some other correspondences which had to do with a directive by government to the effect that he surrenders vehicles which he had been utilising on a permanent basis.”
Rasekoai said in essence Justice Ramodibedi’s perspective “is that he is being muscled by the government to abdicate from office in complete violation of the constitution”.
“If ever he is accused of any misconduct as contemplated under the constitution his removal must be in line with the constitutional imperatives.”
Rasekoai said he found from the government that it blamed Justice Ramodibedi and Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla for the disrepute that has bedeviled the judiciary for years.
“We were assured by the minister (Monyake) that the incident was not malicious and neither was it unconstitutional, it was a courteous gesture on the part of the government to request the President of the Court of Appeal to reconsider his position under the circumstances,” he said.
“Our position as The Law Society is clear,. . . If a judge is accused of any misconduct, we strongly feel that he must be dealt with constitutionally and not otherwise”.

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