The un-opening of the Appeal Court due to ‘lack of funds’ has irked the ire of the Lesotho Law Society, whose members have decided not to show up in courts this week.
The appeal court was supposed to sit for three weeks from April to May but it could not open because funds from the treasury department in the Ministry of Finance were supposedly delayed.
A press briefing was held last week to announce that the normal sitting of the apex court in the country would not resume at the scheduled period due to lack of funds. It was stated during the press briefing that the court had received half of the budget (M3.1 million) it had requested for activities that include bringing Judges from South Africa to hear the appeal matters.
The President of the Law Society in Lesotho, Advocate Tekane Maqakachane said as the legal body they would not just fold their arms when the apex court sitting was postponed due to lack of money.
“We therefore decided to also shun the court. It has never happened that a scheduled appeal court session scheduled fails due to unavailability of funds. This is unacceptable, because the Court of Appeal plays a fundamental role in administering justice in the country,’’ said Maqakachane.
He said the Law Society was trying to quarantine an emergency situation so that it could not spread to other lower courts and were trying to find the real cause of the problems faced by the Court of Appeal so that a final solution could be found.
He also welcomed a statement made by Minister of Justice, Law and Correctional Services Mokhele Moletsane revealing that M6.1 Million would be put aside for the running of the appeal court.
“We welcome the statement from the minister that the funds would be made available for the running of the court of appeal. We remain an independent body which assists and ensures that the court is taken seriously,” he said.
Maqakachane said they would show up in court when the court of appeal, which had been scheduled to hear 22 appeal cases is opened.
Meanwhile, Minister Mokhele Moletsane, has refuted that there were no funds for the running of the courts but they were delayed. He said the budget allocation by the National Assembly took a long-time thus affecting the disbursement of the funds to various government departments including the judiciary.
He also rebutted notions that the issue was politically motivated saying, “the delay in transferring money from the treasury department was caused by the new monetary system not influenced by the political situation in the country.” He added that the transfer of money undergoes different processes before it reaches the courts.” The Minister has therefore assured the nation that the court of appeal would open and the judges who are going to hear the appeal cases would be catered for.
Meanwhile, the Spokeswoman of the Judiciary Mabohlokoa Mapikitla said the minister met with the Registrar of the Appeal Court, President of the Appeal Dr. Kananelo Mosito and Acting Chief Justice Maseforo Mahase on Tuesday to map the way forward for the opening of the Appeal court. She confirmed that the treasury would disburse the remaining budget allocation for the court of appeal.