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CJ APPEALS LESOTHO COURT JUDGMENT

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MBABANE — Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi is appealing the judgment of the Constitutional Court of Lesotho. Ramodibedi argues in his latest court papers that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s bid to advise King Letsie III to initiate a process to have him impeached should never have been launched without him being heard first.


He stated that the trial court erred and or misdirected itself in failing to hold that his suspension was prejudicial as much as it was common cause that the respondents had failed to pay him the salary benefits as promised.


“The Court a quo erred and /or misdirected itself in holding that there was no justice resulting from the prime minister not affording the appellant (Chief Justice) a hearing prior to making representations in  respect of the additional new allegations contained in ground 4.2 and 5 of the proposed impeachment,” he stated.


Last November the High Court, sitting as a Con­stitutional Court, dismissed his appli­cation contesting Thabane’s bid to have him impeached.
This, after the King, on the advice of Thabane, had set up a three judge tri­bunal to probe Ramodibedi over allegations of judicial miscon­duct, leading to his possi­ble impeachment.


Ramodibedi had sought to halt the en­tire process, arguing that his side of the story should have been heard first be­fore the process of establishing the tribunal to probe him had been started.
South African judges, Judge John Musi, Judge Omtheletse Moshidi and Judge Shuled Potterrill, hired to hear the case, dismissed Ramodibedi’s application to interdict the en­tire process of investigating his alleged mis­conduct in a ruling delivered on November 22, 2013.


The three judges ruled that Ramodibedi was not entitled to be heard prior to the de­cision to appoint the tribunal to investigate him.
They insisted that the Appeal Court Presi­dent would receive a fair hearing in the course of the tribunal’s probe into his alleged mis­conduct.
The Chief Justice is now appeal­ing against the entire judgment of the three imported High Court judges, who sat as a Constitutional Court and is now set to delay the tribunal’s misconduct investigation against him.


In his appeal, Ramodibedi cites Thabane, the Attorney General and the three South Af­rican judges who were appointed to the tribu­nal to probe him as respondents.
The three tribunal judges are Justices Zachy Yacoob, Yvonne Mokgoro and M Joffe.


Ramodibedi argues that the prime minis­ter’s move to have him impeached is uncon­stitutional and remains at odds with the doc­trine of separation of powers.
Ramodibedi’s lawyers, Advocates Salemane Phafane KC, Zwelakhe Mda KC and Sakoane Sakoane KC, listed several other grounds for his appeal.
But they particularly argue that the failure to afford Justice Ramodibedi a hearing before the initiation of the impeachment process against him had “resulted in the failure of justice.”
They say the court ought to have held that Justice Ramodibedi was entitled to be heard before Thabane made representations to the King under Section 125 (5) of the Constitu­tion.


Failure to do so effectively infringed on Justice Ramodibedi’s fundamental right to procedural fairness, equality before the law and equal protection of the law, thus putting into question the entire process of law, the lawyers argued.


They also say the court erred and misdirected itself in awarding costs against Ramodibedi, thus effectively pun­ishing him for attempting to vindicate his constitutional rights to be heard.
Ramodibedi’s lawyers say the costs order is at odds with the court’s own finding that this was a matter of ‘na­tional interest’.

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