Nov. 1, 2021


3 min read

Judge Hungwe contract expires

Judge Hungwe contract expires

Justice Charles Hungwe from Zimbabwe

Story highlights

  • Trial against accused soldiers hits brick wall
  • Judiciary’s hands are tied as only parliament holds the purse

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ZIMBABWEAN judge, Justice Charles Hungwe who presided over the case in which nine soldiers are accused of the murder of the former army chief, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao might have to return home because his contract has expired.

That is provided the Government of Lesotho does not renew his contract that expired on October 31

Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane explained on Monday that the judiciary is on an uncharted territory in respect of the matter as the Crown is not in a position to honour its financial obligations.

He said although Justice Hungwe is available and willing to continue with the trial, but the current situation is beyond his control.
“As the Chief Justice, I have tried to assist in solving the matter, but my efforts have been unsuccessful,” Justice Sakoane said, adding that parliament holds the purse and not the judiciary.  

He said he deliberately announced the development in open court in order to avoid any misrepresentations.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but whatever one says should be based on facts,” he said adding that the accused soldiers are facing capital offences.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane asked the court to give her until Tuesday to consult the Attorney General on the matter.

One of the defence lawyers, Attorney Qhalehang Letsika suggested that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) should be informed about the development so that it could pronounce its stance.

“If the JSC and other government organs are unable to come up with a solution, we will ask the Chief Justice to reallocate the matter so that the accused may exercise other options available to them,” he said.
Adv Kabelo Letuka said the JSC needs to urgently fill the vacancy on the bench so that the matter could proceed.

Adv Letuka Molati promised that the defence will assist the Crown to deal with the matter by filling necessary applications.

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The accused in the matter include Motsamai Fako, Motšoane Machae, Tšitso Ramoholi, former LDF commander, Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli, Litekanyo Nyakane, Haleo Makara, Lekhooa Moepi, Marasi 'Moleli and Mohlalefi Seitlheko.

They face multiple charges including attempted murder, theft, obstruction of justice, damage to property, aggravated assault and risk of injury or death.
Most of these crimes allegedly occurred in Ha Lekete and Ha Ratjomose in Maseru on June 25, 2015, the day on which Mahao was killed. LeNA

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