Maseru, Apr.04 — The High Court will on June 08 2023 give a ruling on an issue of costs in a case involving the Commissioner of Police (COMPOL) Mr. Holomo Molibeli and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Crime Investigation Division (CID) Mr. Beleme Lebajoa.
This is after legal representative for the applicant in a contempt application in which the COMPOL is the respondent, Advocate Salemane Phafane (KC) requested that they be awarded costs on a scale of attorney and client.
He made the request after proceedings on the contempt application failed to proceed as the COMPOL brought an application for recusal of a judge presiding over the matter.
The lawyer asked the Court to direct the COMPOL to pay wasted costs before he is allowed to prosecute his application for recusal. He argued that the contempt application has been before court for 21 days adding that the COMPOL has been aware of it. He stated that the COMPOL is abusing the court process. He said he (COMPOL) knew that the court would be forced to postpone the contempt matter when he brought the recusal application.
The issue of costs was opposed by the legal representative for the COMPOL Adv. Tekane Maqaqachane. He argued that the applications for contempt and recusal are matters between the Court and the COMPOL, not between Lebajoa and the COMPOL. He added that although they arise from civil proceedings, they are criminal in nature.
He said the application for contempt cannot be granted costs if the applicant did not ask for purge or committal if purging fails. He pointed out that the applicant is only asking for committal in his application. He added that he (applicant) is an informant in the application thus not entitled to costs.
The COMPOL has on two occasions appeared before the High Court where he was expected to show cause why he cannot be committed for contempt of court. This was pursuant to a court order issued after he (COMPOL) failed to implement its other order directing him to restore bodyguards for Lebajoa whom he has withdrawn.
The proceedings in the contempt application failed to proceed last week as the matter was postponed to this week upon request by the COMPOL through a state lawyer Advocate Mafefooane Moshoeshoe. The postponement was so that the COMPOL could secure a private lawyer as the previous state lawyer who was involved in the matter had asked that he be excused. This week when the matter had to proceed, he brought the application for recusal thus causing another postponement as the respondents had to be given time to answer and all papers be filed with the court.
The application for contempt has been instituted by Lebajoa and according to him, the guards were unilaterally and without a hearing withdrawn from him pending finalisation of the main application. He states that following various failed attempts to have the court order implemented he was forced to institute the application for contempt against the COMPOL.
He says the COMPOL’s move is calculated to derail the administration of justice. He adds that this cannot be allowed in a democratic dispensation where there is rule of law. He insists that the COMPOL is in contempt of court and must be dealt with according to law.
Lebajoa asks that the COMPOL be committed to jail for 60 days for contempt of Court. He states that the courts must mark their displeasure and their commitment to restoring the rule of law by granting the order sought if they are to retain the public confidence and respect they deserve.
He emphasises that doing otherwise will add insult to the integrity of the Court. He insists that the COMPOL intentionally and unlawfully disobeyed the court order.
The case is before Justice Tseliso Mokoko.