Judge orders Lehohla to decide on protest request

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MASERU — High Court judge Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane yesterday ordered Home Affairs Minister Lesao Lehohla to decide whether a protest being organised by a coalition of civic groups should proceed or not. The coalition approached Lehohla last Friday requesting permission to march and present a petition to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili. The appeal to Lehohla came after Senior Superintendent Tšeliso Tšita rejected their application to stage the march last month.
The coalition first applied for a permit on November 22 notifying the police that they intended to march to Mosisili’s offices on November 29. Tšita rejected the application saying the protest posed a grave threat to peace and stability.
An application to stage the march today was also rejected. Advocate Letuka Molati, who is representing the coalition, yesterday told Justice Hlajoane that “the minister simply told them that people have a right to make processions as long as such processions are peaceful. He did not make any decision. He simply shunned them, Molati said. The judge then ordered that Lehohla should make a decision on the coalition’s appeal. “I am giving the Minister of Home Affairs seven days in which he should decide on the appeal. “The minister is given seven days counting from tomorrow excluding weekends,” she ordered. Justice Hlajoane said the Public Meetings and Processions Act of 2010 makes it mandatory for the minister to make a decision when approached on appeal. “It has not been denied that the minister was approached in terms of the law to make the decision. “The law demands that he deals with the matter expeditiously,” she said. Justice Hlajoane made the order after the Deputy Attorney General Tsebang Putsoane suggested that the minister should be directed to make a decision because the matter lies with him. “The court is not empowered to order the minister to issue the permit but to direct him to decide on the appeal that is before him,” Putsoane said. But Advocate Molati had argued that the court should order that a permit be granted for the procession. Molati had told the court that the police’s refusal to grant his clients permission for a procession was unreasonable. He said in refusing the application the police should have at least postponed the date for the procession to “organise the security logistics”. Justice Hlajoane’s order means that the procession which was intended for today will not proceed. The coalition wanted to present a petition to Mosisili demanding that he, among other things, fire some ministers whom they claim are not performing.

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