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Impeach the judge



ELSEWHERE in this issue, we carry a story of a man who is suing a High Court judge for M10 million after the judge sat on a judgement for six years.
The case is perhaps the clearest indicator of the rot gnawing the justice system in Lesotho.
For six years, Lebohang ‘Mei languished in jail while Justice Thamsanqa Nomncongo sat on his case.
When he was eventually paroled in December 2016, he was still waiting for the judge to make a ruling on his appeal.
The honorable judge is still to deliver judgment on the matter.If that story does not prick the collective consciences of the judges and move them into action by speeding up the delivery of justice, nothing will.

The story is yet another illustration of how our courts contemptuously treat the poor and marginalised members of our society.
We would not want to even begin to imagine the anguish and trauma ‘Mei was subjected to while in prison. As graphically captured in our story, his life was effectively ruined.

We know that our judges are working under pressure. They have huge a backlog they are battling to clear. Their conditions of service are nothing to write home about when compared to their peers in the region.
Yet, we believe this case is exceptional when we consider its gravity. Nothing could ever justify why this was allowed to happen.
In fact, in the absence of a cogent explanation from Justice Nomncongo himself, we would like to conclude that this is a clear case of dereliction of duty.

And given the gravity of the matter, we suggest that serious moves to impeach the judge must be vigorously explored.
How else could we justify inaction on such a serious matter?
This is not a case of harassment of a judge. Far from it. That is because we believe our Constitution clearly provides remedies for such gross wrongdoing and Justice Nomncongo must be held accountable.

We would like to admit that our courts have for years been historically shielded from criticism, particularly when the criticism emanates from the executive branch.

The result however, is that no one seems to hold the judiciary accountable. Judges have slowly morphed into a law unto themselves.
That needs to change. We need a certain measure of accountability on the bench, particularly when it comes to delivering judgements.
We are also aware that Justice Nomncongo is not alone; there are many other similar cases that are gathering dust at the Palace of Justice.
This is a serious problem on the bench.

Elsewhere, judges are measured by the output and quality of their judgements. Our judges must therefore be pushed to do what they are supposed to do – delivering justice to the poor and marginalized.
To achieve that, the Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara must closely supervise judges to ensure justice for the poor and marginalised.

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