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Lawyers in boycott threat

Tefo Tefo

MASERU — The Law Society of Lesotho wants lawyers to boycott tomorrow’s official opening of the High Court as part of a campaign it launched last December to get Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla impeached.
Justice Lehohla will deliver the keynote address during the official opening.
The Law Society wants Justice Lehohla to be impeached for appointing a former judge the society had ordered lawyers to boycott.
The society resolved to boycott Justice Peter Cullinan in 2004 after accusing him of siding with the government in his rulings.
And when Justice Cullinan was appointed to hear a contempt of court case against a local journalist, the society protested and called for the impeachment of Justice Lehohla.
The society accused Justice Lehohla of undermining the 2004 resolution by appointing Justice Cullinan.
Last week the Law Society said it will continue to push for Justice Lehohla’s impeachment by boycotting the official opening of the High Court tomorrow.
A memorandum was written to lawyers on Thursday to inform them about the planned boycott.
“Whereas the society in its December 17 2009 special conference, among other things, called for the impeachment of the Chief Justice on the grounds articulated in its memo dated 18th ultimo,” said the memorandum signed by the society’s secretary Ts’eliso Mokoko.
“Now, therefore the council enjoins all legal practitioners, practising and non-practising, not to attend the forthcoming official opening of the High Court on the 1st February 2010.”
The society said the official opening serves no “meaningful and progressive purpose to the legal profession other than to give credence of normalcy”.
The society is bitter that “it is not (being) afforded the opportunity to present its views to the nation on the state of the administration of justice in our kingdom”.
It said a chance to speak at the official opening will allow it to “give a first-hand exposé of the nature and extent of the crises bedevilling the judiciary”.
Added to these grievances is also the fact that “he (Justice Lehohla) does not perform the duty of a judge, which is to hear cases and dispense justice to all — weak and powerful, rich and poor”.
Law Society president Zwelakhe Mda on Friday confirmed to the Sunday Express that the planned boycott of the High Court’s opening ceremony is part of a campaign to push the chief justice out.
“We have a responsibility to make the public aware of what is happening within the judicial service,” Mda said.
“This will show that things are not well in our house.
“Now we are expecting the prime minister (Pakalitha Mosisili) to look into our concerns and advise the King to set up a tribunal in which evidence will be led to investigate the issue.
“Our contention is simple. We are saying the chief justice does not perform his duties.
“His duties include hearing cases and this should be reflected in the court records because a court of law is a court of record.”
Mda said if nothing is done to address the society’s concerns the society will look for other options to deal with the matter.
“We will embark on strategies which will be unfolded in due course,” he said.
However, High Court judges, registrars and judges’ clerks on Friday continued rehearsing on the High Court grounds for the ceremony despite the lawyers’ threat to boycott the ceremony.
Normally the judges, registrars and judges’ clerks’ slowly march from the High Court building to the court grounds where the chief justice inspects the army’s guard of honour as part of the ceremony.
After the inspection they slowly march back into the chief justice’s courtroom in which he delivers a keynote address.

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