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Magistrate refuses to recuse self

Nat Molomo


MASERU — Maseru magistrate Molemo Monethi on Friday dismissed an application that sought to have him recuse himself from handling an armed robbery case.

One of the suspects, Tukula Makhakhe, 34, had argued that they would not receive a fair trial from Monethi.

Makhakhe, a former Public Eye columnist, claimed he once clashed with the magistrate during student union elections at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) when both were studying at the institution.

Makhakhe therefore wanted the magistrate to recuse himself.

Makhakhe and two others — Karabo Thulo, 24, and Lira Ts’ilo, 23 — are accused of robbing Lineo Mokone of M120 000 at Maluti Motors.

They have denied the charge.

In a ruling on Friday, Monethi dismissed the recusal application saying it had no legal basis.

“If I could entertain this application I would never preside over cases at all as I have attended university with many people,” Monethi said.

The magistrate said no reasonable man who had taken a solemn oath would allow himself to be influenced by things that had happened during their student days.

Monethi said while he had attended university at the same time as Makhakhe he never contested for the post of minister of justice within the NUL Student Representative Council.

Makhakhe had argued that he was once a campaign manager for one Batlokoa Makong who had contested for the same post as the magistrate.

“I never campaigned for the portfolio of ministry of justice,” Monethi said.

“If the accused (Makhakhe) was in alliance with Mr ‘Makong, it has nothing to do with this court.”

Monethi assured the accused that they would receive a fair trial.

The magistrate also said he never thought Makhakhe would bring the activities of their student days to honourable court.

He also said mere apprehensions on the part of the accused that the judge would be biased was not enough to prove that he would indeed be biased.

The accused were remanded to appear in court on July 22.

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