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CHIEF JUSTICE RAMODIBEDI SUSPENDED IN LESOTHO

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MBABANE - Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi has been suspended as the President of the Lesotho Court of Appeal.


This was confirmed by Advocate Sipho Mdluli who was representing the Prime Minister of Lesotho Thomas Thabane in the case where Ramodibedi has taken him to court.
“I can confirm that Ramodibedi has been suspended as the President of the Lesotho Court of Appeal and the King has endorsed his suspension,” he said.


In an interview with this publication yesterday Advocate Mdluli said the matter was now left in the hands of the tribunal. “The tribunal is going to compile its report and recommend whether Ramodibedi should be removed as the President of the Supreme Court or not,” he said.
He said the tribunal consists of retired South African judges.


Members of the tribunal are: Justice Z Yacoob, a retired judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, as Chairperson; Justice Y Mokgoro, also a retired Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, as a member; and Justice M Joffe, a retired Judge of the High Court of South Africa, as a member.


“The appointment of the tribunal followed upon Justice Ramo-dibedi’s institution of court proceedings against the Prime Minister, Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane in which the President claimed that the Prime Minister had infringed provisions of the Constitution of Lesotho by calling upon him to resign as President.


“The Prime Minister denied that he had ever called upon the President to resign. He stated that he had asked the President to consider vacating his position because both he and the Chief Justice had by their conduct failed to give leadership to the Judiciary as the two most senior judges in Lesotho.” he said 


reinstated


Mdluli said at the conclusion of the enquiry that the tribunal will be conducting; it is required to advise the King whether Justice Ramodibedi should be reinstated in his office or dismissed as President of the Court of Appeal. Whatever advice the tribunal gives to the King, His Majesty is bound to follow that advice.


He said there were no set terms of reference for the tribunal that was appointed by the King.
 Advocate Mdluli, who is currently based and practising in South Africa, is a former King’s Counsel in Lesotho. He was also appointed Lesotho’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 1987.


Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is reported to have wrote to Justice Ramodibedi asking him to show cause why he should not be suspended pending the finali-sation of his impeachment proceedings.


Thabane wrote the letter after King Letsie III appointed three retired judges from South Africa to sit in the tribunal set-up to investigate reasons for Justice Ramodibedi’s removal from office.
Justice Ramodibedi is accused of failure to protect the integrity and the independence of the judiciary because of his failure to resolve disputes between him and the former Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla.


What happened at the King’s Birthday celebrations in Mohale’s Hoek last year when Justice Ramodibedi and Chief Justice Lehohla battled to appear first in the King’s convoy has also been raised in the charge sheet.


Justice Ramodibedi is also accused of cancelling the January 2013 Court of Appeal session after Chief Justice Lehohla declined to release judges to sit with him in the court.
The government of Lesotho says had Justice Ramodibedi resolved his disputes with Chief Justice Lehohla the cancellation could not have happened.


accused


Justice Ramodibedi is also accused of instructing his official chauffer, Emmanuel Motšetše, to submit a false report to an insurance company after his car was involved in an accident.
The top judge allegedly instructed Motšetše to say he was the one driving the car while it was being driven by the judge’s son, Pheko Ramodibedi.


The insurance company allegedly paid M123 502 while the government paid a further M18 789.
He is also accused of charging “excessive fees” in August 2012 for services he rendered as a judge.
Justice Ramodibedi is also facing charges of claiming travel allowance for his trips to Swaziland where he works as the Chief Justice.


He is also accused of claiming per diems and travel allowances for his wife after they went to the United Kingdom as part of his official visit.
Justice Ramodibedi is also facing a perjury case after he allegedly deposed to an affidavit in a case in which he sued the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers in the Constitutional Court for attempting to remove him from office unconstitutionally.


He allegedly deposed that he signed the affidavit in Mafeteng before a commissioner of oaths while on that day he was not in the country.
Other charges relate to his alleged misconduct in Swaziland where he is the Chief Justice.


complained


The government accuses Justice Ramodibedi of chairing a meeting in which the Swaziland Law Society complained about him in a case in which he had sent a local judge packing for criticising King Mswati III in a judgment.


The Lesotho Government accuses Justice Ramodibedi of compromising the independence of the judiciary in Swaziland.
Ramodibedi recently ran to court seeking for an order restraining the Prime Minister of Lesotho from advising the Lesotho King against suspending him from the office of President of Court Appeal.  He also wanted the investigations against him to be set aside.

 

‘CJ lucky to go through all the legal channels’

 

MBABANE – Human Rights Lawyers have said Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi was fortunate to be afforded a chance to go through the due process law as against to what he allegedly made Judge Thomas Masuku go through.


The lawyers were referring to the matter which put the local judiciary in the limelight internationally following the dismissal of Judge Masuku on September 28, 2011.


Chairman of the lawyers, Maxwell Nkambule said: “We are hoping the issues that we raised will be attended. And we are hoping the issue of Judge Masuku will not die, especially now that there are some developments in Lesotho.”
Before his dismissal, Masuku was slapped with seven charges of impeachment by Chief Justice Ramodibedi.


disciplinary


Masuku had been hauled before a disciplinary tribunal by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on August 11, 2011.
No one else was allowed to attend the hearing besides Masuku’s legal representatives, and Ramodibedi who chaired it dismissed an application to have it publicly heard.


accused


Masuku was accused of, among other things, insulting the King in a judgment he delivered on January 11, 2011 and also of touting himself as the chief justice.
He had been suspended on June 28, 2011 pending his appearance to answer on the charges preferred against him.


He was also accused of defying Chief Justice Ramodibedi’s directive to prepare and submit a monthly schedule of pending judgments and for absenting himself from work.


Judge Masuku served as a High Court Judge since 1999 and he won an order against a transfer to the Industrial Court in 2003.




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