Government has ordered a hefty payout for former Court of Appeal President Michael Ramodibedi, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
According to judicial sources, the amount “ranges between M700 000 and M800 000” and relates to the period the judge was on suspension for alleged corruption, from September 2013 until his resignation in April 2014.
High Court and Court of Appeal Registrar, Lesitsi Mokeke, yesterday confirmed the payout but would not reveal the amount or why Justice Ramodibedi was being paid the money.
“I can acknowledge receipt of a letter from Justice Ramodibedi (regarding the payment). We are now working on the letter with a view to facilitate payment.
“This is after some consultation with the office involved in giving legal advice to all government departments, which is the office of the Attorney General,” Advocate Mokeke said.
Asked what legal advice his office had offered to facilitate the payment, Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe yesterday told the Lesotho Times: “This is a matter relating to the High Court, so ask them because I am in the Executive and they are the judiciary.”
Justice Ramodibedi, who was also Swaziland’s Chief Justice from 2010 until his removal this year for alleged abuse of office, refused to comment on the matter yesterday when contacted by the Lesotho Times, pointing out doing so “might jeopardise some other processes”.
Justice Ramodibedi was, among other issues, suspended for allegedly instructing his chauffer to submit a false insurance report after his official vehicle had been involved in an accident.
The chauffer allegedly subsequently indicated he had been behind the wheel when the car crashed and not the judge’s son as was later claimed by government. As a result of the alleged misrepresentation, the insurance company and government paid Justice Ramodibedi M123 502 and M18 789, respectively.
However, the judge challenged his suspension in the courts but after losing the case, decided to resign, ending his presidency which had begun in July 2008.
However, the judge yesterday sought to “set the record straight” regarding the car crash, insisting his son was not responsible for the accident.
“It was a lie; a trick used by the former regime (led by then prime minister Thomas Thabane) to remove me from office on political grounds so that they could appoint their own people. That is why they even bought a false story that I was accused of sexual harassment in Swaziland.”
Meanwhile, Justice Ramodibedi yesterday dismissed claims that he had “locked himself” in his Ladybrand home to avoid being served with court papers relating to a M150 000 loan he took from First National Bank (FNB)-Swaziland.
Justice Ramodibedi said the claim was “a continuation of a smear campaign” by his Swazi detractors.
A lawyer representing FNB in Swaziland, Mxolisi Dlamini from Robinson Bertram (RB) law firm, had told the Lesotho Times yesterday: “We are finding it difficult to serve Justice Ramodibedi with summons concerning the E150 000 (M150 000) he owes FNB. We instructed some lawyers in South Africa to serve him with the court papers but they told us he was not being cooperative.
“We are now considering serving him the summons through a newspaper in South Africa because he has been uncooperative.”
Attorney Dlamini could not say what he meant by “uncooperative” although Swazi media reporters indicated the judge had “locked himself in his house once again” to evade the law.
This was in reference to Justice Ramodibedi’s decision to barricade himself for two months in his Mbabane home early this year when the police and members of the Anti-Corruption Commission had come to arrest him for alleged abuse of office.
The then Chief Justice only came out of his home after being assured of immunity in the wake of the Lesotho government’s mediation.
But Justice Ramodibedi yesterday dismissed the latest allegations, adding this was yet another campaign to tarnish his good image.
“It is not true!” Justice Ramodibedi said. “No one has ever come to my residence to serve any papers on me. They don’t even know where I stay; I don’t even have a reason to hide. In fact, my residence is a security secret.
“Again, if there was such a case, the bank lawyers could have approached my Swazi lawyer, and they know him very well.
“I contacted him after hearing these allegations and he told me no summons were served in this regard.”
Justice Ramodibedi said he was not surprised about the allegations against him, regarding the FNB loan.
“I am not surprised that they said they came to my home; they were the same people prosecuting my impeachment in Swaziland,” he said.