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Magistrates to know their fate in June

Tefo Tefo

MASERU — Two magistrates who are facing a charge of defeating the ends of justice in the High Court will know their fate in June.

‘Mampai Lesupi and Itumeleng Letsika are being accused of tampering with court records to enable a fraud suspect to escape.

The prosecution said the duo had inserted a minute in the court record in 2005 that fraud charges against Stephen Dlamini had been withdrawn which was not true.

The prosecution said the magistrates inserted such minute to enable Dlamini to escape.

Dlamini was being charged with defrauding the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) of M2.8 million.

High Court judge Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane said she would deliver judgment in the two magistrates’ case on June 6.

The judgment comes after lawyers representing the two magistrates pleaded with Justice Hlajoane to acquit them.

Advocate Motiea Teele on Tuesday said the crown had failed to prove that the magistrates had clear intention to commit an offence when they altered the court record.

Teele said it is not enough for the prosecution to establish that the magistrates made some alterations in the record without going further to demonstrate that they had any criminal intention in doing so.

“The important thing that must be looked at is that the charges in this matter have particulars.

“Count one says the record was altered to enable Mr Dlamini to escape.

“Once we agree that the act is common cause the crown should go beyond that to show that there was an intention to commit the alleged offence,” Teele said.

Teele said the alterations made on the court record were a genuine mistake done by the magistrates.

 “Mistakes do happen when people do their work.

“The question is whether they acted bona fide or not and the question of bona fide has nothing to do with right or wrong,” Teele said.

A lawyer representing the crown, Advocate Guido Penzhorn, urged the High Court to convict the two magistrates for defeating the ends of justice.

Penzhorn said the two magistrates were the judicial officers and should have foreseen the consequences of their acts.

“The accused as the magistrates should have appreciated the significance of their entry (of the words that charges were withdrawn against Dlamini).

“I submit that the court should find them guilty as charged,” Penzhorn said.

Justice Hlajoane presided over the case after the Court of Appeal in October 2008 directed that the case should start afresh before a different judge.

It was after the High Court judge Justice Gabriel Mofolo had acquitted the magistrates on the same charges.

The prosecution appealed against their acquittal and the Court of Appeal upheld the prosecution’s appeal and ordered that the case should start before a different judge.

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