MASERU — High Court judge Justice ’Maseforo Mahase has told the Sadc Lawyers Association that she and members of her family are being stalked by suspicious men.
The stunning allegations are contained in a report released by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Wednesday.
Justice Mahase says she raised her concerns with the Chief Justice but received no response.
It is however not clear whether she referred the matter to retiring Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla or the current Acting Chief Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi.
The report says while each judge in Lesotho has a full-time security guard to escort them during the day “there have been disturbing instances of judges’ security being jeopardised at home”.
Justice Mahase says she had been calling on the government to beef up security at her home since the police raided her house during the 2007 political disturbances but her pleas have been ignored.
“I also requested the Chief Justice to give me assurances about my personal security,” the report quotes Justice Mahase.
“I have had no response from the Chief Justice. I am sure that I am being followed around by strange people, their faces peep over the barrier surrounding my residence.”
“My family members are also being followed around by strange men,” she said.
Justice Mahase says none of the judges has security provided at their home except the Chief Justice.
“I am not sure if the judicial conditions stipulate that we are supposed to have security, we have however discussed the need for security but nothing has been done,” she said.
The ICJ says given the history of politically motivated assassinations and the increase in gun violence in Lesotho, 24-hour security for judges would seem to be a prudent measure.
The report says the potential threat of violence is of equal concern to actual violence.
“If a judge’s security is not guaranteed then she cannot be called upon to administer justice without ‘fear or favour.’”
The ICJ also referred to an incident in which another judge, Justice Nthomeng Majara, escaped death by a whisker when a gunman shot at her car and injured a person she was with.
After that “there has been a call to provide 24-hour security for judges”.
“There are a number of issues at stake in relation to court security and security at judges’ homes,” reads the report.
“In the court building, the security gates were not working at the time of this researcher’s visit and security was apparently minimal.”
The ICJ report was released during a seminar in Maseru last week.
The seminar deliberated on the politics of judicial independence in Lesotho.
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