Shawn Abrahams recused from Lesotho’s murder trials

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By Itumeleng Koleile

Shawn Abrahams, a former South African National Prosecuting Authority boss appointed by former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s administration to prosecute various treason, murder and attempted murder trials recused himself today from the trials.

Advocate Abrahams today recused himself from the murder trials: pertaining to both police and soldiers, he was prosecuting.

Presiding judge, Justice Hungwe told the court that he had received the notice of withdrawal.

Although Justice Hungwe ordered that Abrahams be recused from all the cases before him, the judge said the notice of recusal ought to have been filed for a period of fourteen days before actually being heard in court in terms of the rules.

He confirmed that he had received the notice of withdrawal electronically but did not say what the application for recusal says in detail. The Judge also noted that he has learned that office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Hlafang Motinyane had received the notice of Abrahams intention to withdraw from being the lead Crown Counsel.

Addressing the court Motinyane said she had prior deliberations with the Abrahams concerning his intention to withdraw from the cases he was prosecuting.

She told the court that she is aware of the inconvenience the withdrawal is going to cause, however, she promised that by the end of this week, she would have sorted out the matter.

“I am aware of the hiccups this withdrawal is going to cause, especially because advocate Abrahams had been working for so long on this matter and had also interviewed most of the witnesses in the pending trials. But I am duty bound to ensure that by the end of the week the matter has been resolved,” Motinyane told the court.

Motinyane told the court that if the matter is not resolved by the end of the week, she will have to step up and prosecute the cases.

In his founding affidavit of the recusal application Abrahams said as “I attested hereto solely in application to this hononarable court to withdraw as Crown Counsel in R v Tlali Kamoli and 4 Others, Lesotho High Court, CRI/T/0002/2018 with immediate effect”.

“Over the last year the Director of Public Prosecutions and I have attempted to resolve administrative and professional differences, which have remained unresolved despite numerous attempts at finding an amicable resolution thereto.

“This resulted in me writing to the Director of Public Prosecutions on 18 August 2021 giving timeous notice of my intention to withdraw as Crown Counsel in all matters on brief, including CRI/T/0002/2018, with immediate effect on or about 1 September 2021.

“As a result on 2 September 2021 I filed a Notice of Withdrawal as Crown Counsel in casu in line with the provisions of the Superior Courts Practice Directive No.2  of 2021,” said Abrahams.

He adds that “for professional reasons I can as a result in good conscience no longer proceed with the brief as lead Crown Counsel in CRI/T/0002/2018”.

He further asked the court to condone his late filing in non-compliance to the provisions of the Section 4 (a) of the Superior Courts Practice Direction No. 4 of 2021.