Maseru,Oct. 11 — Muhammad Ashraf and Tanveer Alam who have filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal after they were convicted of fraud, have asked the same court to set aside a directive by the High Court that they be given a custodial sentence.
The duo who are Pakistan nationals were found guilty of having fake work permits by the Magistrate Court after they pleaded guilty. The matter went on automatic review before the High Court and it confirmed the conviction. The High Court held that the proceedings before the Magistrate Court were in accordance with substantial justice. It directed that the matter be remitted to the Magistrate Court for sentencing and that the sentence be custodial.
The appellants’ legal representative Advocate Christopher Lephuthing has on Wednesday, before the the Court of Appeal argued that the proceedings before the Magistrate Court were not in accordance with substantial justice. He indicated that the directive of the High Court should have been that the case be remitted to the Magistrate Court to start de novo before a different Magistrate.
He emphasised that there were discrepancies and non-compliance of section 240 of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act by the presiding magistrate. He indicated that no evidence was led by competent witnesses adding that material witnesses were not located. He insisted that a conviction is predicated on evidence.
The lawyer stated that in proposing alteration of sentence, the High Court compromised the appellants defence in a criminal matter contrary to section 12 (1) (d) and (e ).
Legal representation for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who is one of the respondents in the appeal, Advocate Lehlanako Mofilikoane argued that the matter is a review as it questions procedure. She stated that the appellants wrongfully and prematurely approached the Court of Appeal. She said the the Magistrate will not be funtus officio when complying with the directive of the High Court.
She requested that the matter be struck off the roll.
The appeal was heard by Judges Kananelo Mosito, Moses Chinghengo and Moroke Mokhesi. Judgement is expected to be delivered on November 17 2023.