Judges appointed amid Justice Minister demands

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By Pulane Chaka

A long-serving Senior Resident Magistrate Polo Banyane was yesterday sworn in as a Judge of the High Court of Lesotho amid last week’s demands by Justice Minister Nqosa Mahaothe process to be delayed to ensure more voices can take part in the processes of appointment.

But, justice Banyane, took her oath of Office with after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) advised his Majesty King Letsie III to appoint her among four others as Judges of the High Court.

Justice Banyane was earlier in May this year appointed an Acting Judge of the High Court of Lesotho prior to her appointment as a full-time Judge bringing the number of women serving in the on the High Court bench to two after the deaths of other judges.

Amid the need for more judges in the High Court and a huge case back lock, Professor Mahao, after leaning there were names of candidates selected for advice to the King to be appointed as Judges had aired his dissatisfaction arguing government did not know.

Even though Mahao has complained about the failure of the JSC to notify his office and government about the appointment of judges, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro on his twitter account published a tweet about Justice Banyane’s taking oath of office with a picture showing the judge taking oath at the Royal Banqueting Hall.

Mahao had also demanded the appointment processes needed a review as the Judicial Service Commission was constituted by a narrow representation of the legal profession.

Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal, Advocate Mathato Sekoai told the KDNews that she is currently unaware of any change being made by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) in accordance with the complaint registered by Mahao last week.

Sekoai said His Majesty, the King presently has the names of the nominees the JSC put forth last week.

She stated that, in accordance with the Constitution, the names were passed to His Majesty for approval directly after the decision was made by the JSC.

In terms of whether or not she felt Mahao had a solid argument in saying that the JSC could do with more voices where decisions of such magnitude were concerned, Sekoai stated that the law was as it was and it did not matter what her feelings on the matter were.

Contacted for comment Attorney General Advocate Haae Phoofolo said the only person with the power to do anything about the complaint lodged by Mahao is Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase as the chairperson of the JSC.

Phoofolo said he was presently unaware of whether or not the JSC would do anything in regards to the complaint laid forth by Mahao last week, though the person responsible for such a decision would be Justice Mahase.

“She will convene us and ask us if such a thing arises but for now such a thing has not arisen…so far as I know,” Phoofolo said.

Though he is not at liberty to disclose the names of the judges that the JSC has nominated, Phoofolo did state that although last week he was only aware of 3 of the 5 nominees, he now knows who all 5 are and that the names are with His Majesty for approval.

#Judiciary begins. Here at the Royal Palace and before His Majesty we see Justice Polo Philomena Banyane being sworn in as a new puisne Judge of the High Court of #Lesotho. pic.twitter.com/YNCPkLWfsf

— Moeketsi Majoro (@PrimeMinisterLS) September 2, 2020

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