HIGH Court Judge, Justice Molefi Makara, on Monday cast doubts on the veracity of retired Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Leaba Thetsane’s testimony in a case where he is seeking an order to compel the Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs to return the official vehicle he used before his retirement.
Justice Makara said Advocate Thetsane’s submissions which were made through his lawyer, Attorney Qhalehang Letsika, were “unbelievable”.
This was after Attorney Letsika told the court that the police swooped on Adv Thetsane’s home last week and seized the vehicle in a movie style operation.
Instead of granting Adv Thetsane’s application, the judge ordered the respondents to appear before the High Court today to present their side of the story before he rules on the matter.
Heavily armed police officers raided Advocate Thetsane’s home in Thetsane in Maseru last Tuesday and forced him to hand over the official vehicle he used during his tenure as the DPP.
Advocate Thetsane, who served as DPP since 1999, was initially scheduled to retire on 28 June 2018 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60 years.
However, the cabinet resolved that he retire with effect from 17 January this year and Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane was subsequently appointed acting DPP.
Adv Thetsane has since challenged that decision in the constitutional court.
Adv Thetsane then filed an application at the High Court on Monday seeking an order for the immediate release of the vehicle to him until his constitutional case has been finalised.
His lawyer, Attorney Letsika, asked the court to order the immediate release of the vehicle because it was taken unlawfully.
He said the nature of the application before court, which he termed as “the application for spoliation” (wrongful deprivation of another’s right of possession), warranted the court to make an order of restoring the situation as was before an unlawful act was committed.
The respondents include the Principal Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs Advocate ‘Mole Khumalo, the Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs and the Attorney General.
“The applicant is entitled to approach this honourable court and before anything can be done, His Lordship should order that the applicant’s possession of the car should be restored. Even if the court could decide whether he is entitled to the vehicle or not, he is entitled to a rule nisi (interim court order),” Attorney Letsika said.
He also told the court that the police arrived at Adv Thetsane’s home and seized the vehicle in a movie style operation.
It was at this juncture that Justice Makara said that “this scenario of the events” as described by Adv Thetsane’s lawyer “attracts some skepticism such that it calls for the other party to give its side of the story”.
“Basing on the scenario given by the applicant it is unbelievable that the government can act like that against its statutory employee.
“This leads to a thinking that in as much as a case has been made, there is skepticism that the government can act like that.
“However, the court orders that respondents should be served with papers and the best way is to expedite the matter because it sounds urgent,” Justice Makara said.
The judge further said the case could have been resolved through negotiations rather than through litigation.
“It is not in the interest of this country and the judiciary that cases like this one occupy a roll of court. It is one of the cases that can be resolved amicably to preserve the image of the country,” the judge said.
He ordered the lawyers to appear again in court today to enable the government to present its side of the story.