Manyokole steps up legal fight



MASERU – Embattled Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) boss, Advocate Mahlomola Manyokole, has escalated his fight with government to the highest court in the land – the Court of Appeal. Manyokole has appealed against the High Court judgment that a tribunal set to investigate his fitness to hold office is lawful.

Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro on December 18, 2020, appointed a three-member tribunal tasked with investigating Manyokole’s fitness to hold office as well as determining a question of removing the Director General (DG) from office.

The anti-corruption boss in return launched a court bid to nullify the appointment of the tribunal and asked that his suspension be reversed. At the time of the application, law and justice minister, Professor Nqosa Mahao, had asked Manyokole to ‘show cause’ why he may not be suspended from duty and eventually suspended him.

The court later cancelled the suspension but declined to nullify the appointment of the tribunal. The prime minister responded by suspending Manyokole, again, and barring him from the DCEO offices.

In his judgment, High Court judge, Justice Moroke Mokhesi, said he found no evidence that the appointment of the tribunal is tainted as alleged by Manyokole and that there was no evidence that Chief Justice (CJ) Sakoane Sakoane’s selection of Retired Judge Moiloa to head the tribunal is irrational. Manyokole had labeled the CJ’s decision as irrational, claiming Judge Moiloa was being investigated by the DECO; and, therefore, conflicted.

Also, Manyokole argued that government’s failure to afford him a hearing before appointing a tribunal is a violation against the independence of DCEO and thereby asked the court nullify the legal notice establishing it (the tribunal).

Justice Mokhesi dismissed all the allegations essentially ruling that the tribunal is properly constituted. Manyokole is unhappy with the decision and wants the Court of Appeal to reverse judge Mokhesi’s judgment.

He is appealing the judgment on at least three grounds: that the court erred and misdirected itself when it failed to review the prime minister’s appointment of the tribunal, and dismissal of the application “in circumstances where the court ought to have declared the establishment of the tribunal and the legal notice as illegal…”

Further, Manyokole says the court misdirected itself when it dismissed his application with costs saying costs ought to have been granted against those he sued.

The under fire DG claims that he was not given an opportunity to make representations and be heard on relevant issues to the detriment of his fair hearing rights, reputation, dignity and self-worth. He also contends that he was treating fairly in the process leading to his suspension.

“The 1st and 2nd respondents knew at least in CIV/APN/421/2021 that before any adverse representation are made and a tribunal appointed, the appellant is entitled to make representations on the relevant issues, but the 1st and 2nd respondents respectively, with this knowledge, went ahead regardless and made the adverse representations and established

the tribunal,” reads Manyokole’s appeal papers in part. It is also Manyokole’s case that the High Court ought to have nullified a legal notice establishing the tribunal for reasons that: it left grounds and circumstances of the investigation to the subjective estimate, assessment, discretion and judgment of the tribunal to his prejudice.

That the legal notice authorized the investigation of all and any matter which government can imagine to place before the tribunal; as a result, Manyokole says the notice violates the principles of the legality.

His Lawyer, Advocate Tekane Maqakachane has written to the Appeal Court Registrar requesting the court to expertise the hearing of the appeal. This is necessitated by the fact that the appeal might be deposed in the October session of the court for the April’s roll has already been finalized.

In the letter, Maqakachane says his client will be prejudiced if the case is not heard in the April session of the court and thereby request an urgent hearing.

“In the normal course of the process and procedure, the appeal having been noted at the end of February 2021, is likely to be heard in the October session of the appeals court, in all probabilities,” he said in the letter

Maqakachane notes that should the court fail to hear them in its April session the tribunal will have completed the investigations by October and the prime minister continuing to remove his client notwithstanding the pending appeal.

Moreso, when the legal notice establishing the tribunal is expected to finalize investigations within eight weeks. For that, he is requesting the court to grant the request that their appeal also be enrolled in the April session of the court.

“Should the Honourable court be inclined to grant us the request sought, we will be more than happy if considering all reasonable practicability, the matter can be heard through virtual or remote (e-hearing) platform during the third of fourth week of March 2021 or first week of April 2021, depending on the convenience of the court.”



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