THE Law Society of Lesotho has welcomed the Friday Court of Appeal judgement which upheld Justice Kananelo Mosito’s appeal against the Constitutional Court’s February 2018 judgement which nullified his reappointment as president of the apex court.
The President of the Law Society, Advocate Tekane Maqakachane, said Justice Mosito’s reappointment would facilitate the delivery of justice which was in limbo as a result of the non-functioning of the Court of Appeal for close to two years.
A five-member panel of Court of Appeal judges on Friday ruled that Justice Mosito’s 1 August 2017 reappointment to the helm of the apex court by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was legal and therefore he should be sworn into the position immediately.
Apart from Justice Musonda who is from Zambia, the other judges on the panel are ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane and Moroke Mokhesi (both from Lesotho), November Tafuma Mtshiya (Zimbabwe) and John Zwibili Mosojane (Botswana).
Reading the judgement on Friday, Acting Justice of Appeal, Musonda, said that the five-member panel had reached the verdict that Justice Mosito’s reappointment was legal.
“This was not an easy judgement to make and we had to sit down again to discuss it in the morning hence we postponed the reading of this judgement from 9.30am to 11am,” Justice Musonda said.
“Dr Kananelo Everitt Mosito was validly reappointed as President of the Court of Appeal with effect on 1 August 2017. The Acting Chief Justice (‘Maseforo Mahase) is ordered to swear in Dr Mosito KC as President of the Court of Appeal as soon as is practicable,” Justice Musonda further said on Friday.
The swearing-in of Justice Mosito paves the way for the Court of Appeal to resume its sittings and clear the backlog of cases that had piled up when the court was not functioning because it did not have a president.
Adv Maqakachane immediately welcomed the decision, saying this would facilitate justice for many people whose rights had been violated as a consequence of the non-functioning of the Court of Appeal for close to two years.
“As the Law Society we get concerned when people do not get justice due to the dysfunction of the courts.
“There was a case which hindered Mosito’s reappointment and all we wanted was for the matter to be solved so that justice could prevail. The (Court of Appeal) judgement proved that the Constitutional Court was wrong and that Dr Mosito was rightfully appointed in 2017. One cannot impeach someone who has resigned.
“It is not a matter of who holds the presidency (Court of Appeal) but getting this court operational. What happened today is a step towards justice,” Adv Maqakachane said.
Adv Maqakachane further said that the non-functioning of the Court of Appeal had caused “serious damage” to the judicial system as people could not challenge High Court judgements they felt were unfair.
“I cannot quantify the damage the closure of Court of Appeal for about two years has caused but it has affected justice and the rule of law in that some people are still in jail because they could not challenge the sentences that were delivered against them by the High Court,” Adv Maqakachane said.