MASERU — A human rights pressure group, Voice of the Voiceless Association (Vova) on Monday handed a petition to Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla demanding the imposition of the death penalty on murderers.
They also demanded that the chief justice acts to speed up cases in the courts.
Justice Lehohla however invited the Vova general secretary, ’Masetota Leshota, into his chambers where he is said to have addressed some of the group’s concerns.
Leshota said the Chief Justice had confided in him that while some of their concerns were genuine some of them were beyond his jurisdiction.
One such issue was the imposition of the death penalty, Leshota said.
She said Lesotho was under immense pressure from the international donor community not to impose the death penalty.
Leshota told the marchers that the Chief Justice had also said even if High Court judges sentence a guilty person to death that judgment can still be overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Even when the Court of Appeal has confirmed the death sentence there is still a special committee set up specifically to deal with whether a person should be hanged or not, Leshota said.
“So, it is not easy to enforce the death sentence according to the Chief Justice,” Leshota said.
“He bluntly told me that there is nothing he can do about that part of our concerns.”
Vova said it was also concerned by the delays to deal with cases in the courts.
Vova president, Bishop Phakiso Motaung, told the marchers that the time has come for the judiciary to realise that justice delayed is justice denied.
“In many cases all the facts relating to a dispute are put before court but whoever is presiding seeks reasons for postponement,” Motaung said.
“These postponements have wreaked havoc on the lives of many litigants and many have lost their properties while others have lost lives.”
He added: “It is unfair that the courts do not consider the negative impact of these postponements of cases on litigants especially those offended.”