‘PM meddling with the court’

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MASERU – A security manager who is locked in a legal dispute with Lets’eng Diamond Mine has accused Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of influencing a High Court judge to throw out his case last year.

Bofihla Makhalane, who is a former assistant commissioner of police, wanted the High Court to stop the mine from hauling him before a disciplinary hearing for alleged misconduct.

High Court Judge Semapo Peete dismissed his application last year saying the matter should be handled by the Labour Court, a decision that Makhalane now alleges was influenced by Mosisili.

“Mosisili’s involvement in this matter has negatively influenced the outcome of this case in the court a quo (High Court),” Makhalane told the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, while urging the superior court to overturn Justice Peete’s ruling.

Makhalane’s statements would be particularly damning to the Prime Minister’s reputation if proven to be true.

This is because Makhalane is accusing Mosisili of interfering with the work of the judiciary and influencing court decisions in violation of the principle of separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive.

Makhalane was fired by Lets’eng Diamonds in 2007 for alleged misconduct.

He however won a reinstatement order from the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution the same year.

The company, however, insisted that Makhalane should first face disciplinary action before being allowed back into his old job.

He has been fighting the decision since.

Mosisili is yet to directly respond to the allegation.

But the prime minister has previously denied political influence in the matter.

Appearing before the Court of Appeal’s panel of three judges on Tuesday, Makhalane insisted that the prime minister “is a party in inflicting a painful injury” on his case against Lets’eng.

Makhalane told the Court of Appeal that Justice Peete’s decision was influenced by Mosisili.

“His (Mosisili) involvement can only bear bitter fruits as it did influence the Honourable Judge of the court a quo,” Makhalane told the Court of Appeal bench led by Justice John Smalberger.

“The Right Honourable the Prime Minister has failed to protect an innocent man, instead he is a party in inflicting a painful injury,” he said.

Makhalane handed in a letter that he said showed Mosisili’s involvement.

The contents of the letter have not been made public and efforts by the Lesotho Times to obtain a copy were futile last night.

This is not the first time that Makhalane has accused politicians of interfering with his case against Lets’eng.

In his Court of Appeal papers filed last year, Makhalane attached a separate letter in which he requested Mosisili to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki for allegedly interfering with the case.

In the letter Makhalane asked Mosisili to investigate whether Moleleki did not order his dismissal at the mine in 2007 on allegations that he was a member of an opposition party.

Makhalane also wanted Mosisili to investigate why Leribe magistrate, Peter Murenzi, refused to assist him acquire a private prosecution certificate to prosecute the Lets’eng Diamond management “for the crimes of fraud, corruption and theft of diamonds”.

“Is his refusal due to corruption or the influence from the Hon Minister Moleleki or both?” read part of Makhalane’s letter to Mosisili.

He also told Mosisili that he suspected Moleleki had a hand in law enforcement agents’ refusal to take the cases he reported against the Lets’eng Diamond Mine management to court.

It was then that Mosisili accused Makhalane of “personalising and politicising a simple legal or labour issue between yourself and your erstwhile employer”.

“The allegations of impropriety you make against Honourable Minister Monyane Moleleki are spurious and without any foundation whatsoever,” Mosisili said in response.

“I therefore find no basis whatsoever for the commission of inquiry you propose,” he said.

Mosisili also accused Makhalane of interfering with a presiding officer who was handling the case.

“Your whole conduct and attempts to interfere with the presiding officer with a view to influence his judgment over your labour case is most disturbing,” he said.

The Court of Appeal will deliver judgment in the case on April 20.

Lets’eng is the seventh largest kimberlite mine in the world. The government owns 30 percent of the mine, while London headquartered Gem Diamonds Limited holds the remaining 70 percent stake.

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