Mosito bounces back
. . . as judge still faces tax charges
Pascalinah Kabi/Tefo Tefo
JUSTICE Kananelo Mosito has bounced back as the President of the Court of Appeal, barely eight months after resigning from the position.
However, the High Court has postponed to 26 October this year, a case in which Justice Mosito stands accused of breaching tax laws.
Justice Mosito was restored to the post after King Letsie III heeded Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s advice to appoint him with effect from the 1 August, 2017.
“I, King Letsie III, pursuant to section 124(1) of the Constitution of Lesotho and acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint Dr Kananelo Everrit Mosito K.C as the president of the Court of Appeal with effect from the 1 August 2017,” reads part of the Legal Notice No. 64 of 2017.
Justice Mosito resigned on 13 December, 2016 after exhausting all means to be reinstated having been suspended on 12 February 2016 to pave way for impeachment proceedings against him.
He said at the time he hoped to return at the helm of the Court of Appeal once the “political climate was conducive”.
He was initially appointed Court of Appeal president in January 2015, taking over from Justice Michael Ramodibedi who had also resigned after losing a protracted legal battle to stop his impeachment for alleged abuse of office.
However, not long after Justice Mosito’s appointment, King Letsie III appointed a three-member tribunal in February last year, at the advice of then premier Pakalitha Mosisili, to investigate him for allegedly failing to pay income tax between 1996 and 2014.
The tribunal was comprised of Chairperson, Justice Frederik Daniel Jacobus Brand, Justice Noel Victor Hurt, and Justice John Godfrey Foxcroft all from South Africa. The tribunal completed its proceedings on 20 October, 2016 and submitted its report to King Letsie III.
Justice Mosito resigned before a verdict was announced on his fate, citing alleged persecution by Dr Mosisili and Attorney-General Tšokolo Makhethe King’s Counsel (KC).
Titled ‘Immediate resignation as President of the Court of Appeal of Lesotho’, part of the letter reads: “Your Majesty, kindly receive my profound gratitude for the opportunity given to me to serve your Majesty’s Nation in my capacity as the President of the Court of Appeal of Lesotho from 15 January to date.
“Although your Majesty may have seen some value in my professional worth, leading to my appointment to such a high judicial office, Your Majesty’s current Prime Minister and his Attorney-General clearly hold a different view.
“The Attorney-General went out of his way to select three retired South African judges and handing their names over to the Prime Minister (on 17 December 2015) for Your Majesty to appoint to serve as members of the Section 125 Tribunal under the Constitution of Lesotho.”
He also cast doubt on the objectivity of the tribunal given that they were appointed by a complainant.
“As at present, all indications are that the justice system in the country has become paralysed and the rule of law jettisoned, if not relegated to the dustbin of history in our Kingdom.
“Whether guilty or not, no one can expect judges selected by the complainant Attorney-General to do justice in his own cause.”
Justice Mosito stated there is no hope of any justice since Dr Mosisili’s government was “momentarily in place”.
“I have therefore decided to tender my resignation as President of the Court of Appeal of Lesotho forthwith. The effect hereof is that the purported impeachment proceedings are hereby aborted and there will be no need for Your Majesty to suffer the indignity of having to remove me pursuant to the binding advice of the Attorney-General’s selected former South African judges. I am prepared to come back soon to serve the nation in the administration of justice when the political climate will be conducive.”
Justice Mosito was not reachable for comment on his mobile phone which was not answered yesterday.
Meanwhile, the High Court on Thursday postponed to 26 October this year, the case in which Justice Mosito stands accused of allegedly breaching tax laws.
The case has been hanging over Justice Mosito’s head since 2015 when the former coalition government accused him of violating tax laws by allegedly failing to submit his income tax returns to the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) from 1996 to 2014.
The then government used the tax issue to force Justice Mosito out of his position as the president of the apex court by levelling tax evasion charges against him and setting up a tribunal to determine whether he should be impeached on the matter.
Justice Mosito lodged constitutional cases challenging the legality of the charges leveled against him as well as the tribunal set up to investigate him.
He lost both court challenges before the Court of Appeal and thereafter, the Director of Public Prosecutions King’s Counsel Leaba Thetsane proceeded to prosecute him.
The then government also continued with the tribunal to have him impeached but he resigned before a verdict was reached on whether or not he should leave his position.