By Thoboloko Ntšonyane
MASERU – The 2023 first session of the Court of Appeal has begun on Tuesday this week.
As the President was absent, there was no opening speech and it began with the roll call.
The legal year for this court is set to commence from April 11 to May 12. This is an adopted practice from England although the latter’s legal year commences in October.
It has only two sessions in a year, being one which runs from April to May and the last one running from October to November.
Also known as the second court of record, the Court of Appeal is the highest court on the land.
The judiciary is undergoing the reforms process, once completed this court will be phased out and Lesotho will have the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land.
Some of the cases scheduled to be heard during the court’s session, include that of the former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander retired Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli versus the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Kamoli appeals the ruling of the presiding judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, in the bombs case where the former declined to recuse himself. The applicant alleged that Judge Hungwe will be biased against him and therefore will not dispense justice accordingly.
At one of the proceedings, Kamoli rose and told the court that he was shocked at the attitude of the Judge towards him and quoted him as saying “I am going to deal with your attitude”.
Then he also said: “I want His Lordship to know from the bottom of my heart that I don’t have confidence in him as what transpired today affirms what he said to me during my first encounter with him, that he is going to deal with my attitude.”
In this case, the former LDF Commander and other soldiers face a litany of charges ranging from attempted murder, risk of injury or death. They are also accused of detonating explosive devices and/or discharging multi grenades launchers at the residence of Liabiloe Ramoholi in Moshoeshoe II and the former Commissioner of Police Khothatso Ts’ooana at Ha-Abia.
The other case which the court is set to hear is that of Lesotho’s former High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, Rethabile Marumo Mokaeane.
The court will again hear the case of former CEO of the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) cum politician Hon. ‘Mamarame Matela.
The Appeal Court bench has one local Judge, who is also its president, Justice Kananelo Mosito while the rest are from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
They are: Justice Petrus Damaseb from Namibia, Justice Philip Musonda (Zambia), Justice November Tafima Mtshiya and Justice Moses Hungwe Chinhengo both from Zimbabwe, and Justice Johann Van der Westhuizen from South Africa.
The court will hear 36 cases from April 11 to April 21, while from April 22 to May 11 will be reserved for writing the judgments.