LOCAL lawyer, Advocate Letuka Molati, has lodged a bizarre letter of demand for M6 million to the government for allegedly failing to efficiently run the judiciary which had a negative effect on his practice and health.
In a letter of demand addressed to Attorney-General (AG) Tšokolo Makhethe and dated 23 June, Advocate Molati instructs the government’s principal legal officer to inform Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and other senior officials of his demand.
He says the claim arose from the “unlawful, wrongful and unpatriotic acts of the office bearers in the government of Lesotho” who he said had failed to ensure that the legal system was effective.
He says this is evident in the “failure” by some of the judges to hear cases in the High Court, perpetually postponing cases adding that in some instances judgments were “only delivered after four years”.
Adv Molati also bemoans the government’s alleged failure to appoint judges to the High Court, the Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court, adding that since the death of “the Advocate and Honorable Judge Lebereko Lethobane”, cases before the Labour Court remained unheard.
He took a swipe at the AG and the government for allegedly failing to ensure that cases pending before the Court of Appeal were dealt with and disposed of within a reasonable time along with criminal cases.
“Most, if not all murder cases in Lesotho are prosecuted after five years of a person being murdered which brings the connotation that the perpetrators of murder in 2017 will only be prosecuted after 2022 unless God enters into the hearts of Basotho who are entrusted with parliamentary responsibility to do their work and put in place proper means needed for reforms,” Advocate Molati states.
In addition, Adv Molati also accuses the AG and the government of failing to maintain the infrastructure of the courts.
“Cases are being postponed because the courts are cold and they make honorable judges sick with flu and common cold because the heating system has not been maintained since time immemorial.
“The effect of government’s failure to act has caused me a delictual harm which includes but is not limited to the following; failing to maintain proper cash flow perpetually in my practice and failing to increase work force in my practice to help my county and my government in the fight against poverty by partaking in job creation.”
He further states that he had been forced to retrench staff at his practice, which “interfered with my constitutional right to just and favourable conditions of work and economic opportunities”.
Adv Molati also states that the situation resulted in his failure to fulfil his tax obligations on time, therefore “falling into unintended payment arrears”.
“Had this state of not affairs transpired, I would have earned a sum exceeding M6 million for my practice and the harm I suffered is still continuing.
“It is on this basis that I so claim. Unless you propose how to settle my claim amicably out of court, you will certainly and undoubtedly receive summons after the lapse of the statutory period.”
He said he had also suffered an increase in hypertension and weight gain due to stress and depression, adding the situation had also broken his “patriotic spirit” as he considered leaving to practice law in South Africa.
“Maybe I would cry, shed a tear and get to a state of calmness of soul, but I cannot.
“It is a sad reality that some of the matters herein arising should, properly speaking, be attended to by the Law Society of Lesotho but unfortunately it abdicated a better part of its statutory responsibility and has since become…a toothless bull dog which no longer bites but salivates and keeps on wagging the tail,” he wrote.
AG Makhethe said he could not comment on the letter as he was yet to receive the letter of claim from Advocate Molati.