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Judge Hungwe’s contract extended to 2023

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Judge Charles Hungwe’s will continue hearing the “high profile” cases as his contract is set to go on until February 2023.

This was said by the European Union (EU) Head of Delegation to Lesotho, Paola Amadei last week.

The Zimbabwean Judge is the only Judicial Officer remaining following the resignation of the two other Judges, Justices Kabelo Lebotse and Onkemetse Tshosa, both from Botswana.

“The European Union, in collaboration with UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], has secured funding to extend the current project until the end of February 2023 to allow Justice Charles Hungwe, the last remaining foreign judge, to continue presiding over the cases assigned to him,” she said.

EU shoulders the responsibility of paying his salary.

The “high profile” cases are the outcome of the findings and recommendations of the report published by SADC following its investigations in 2015 which sought to establish the circumstances leading to the death of the former LDF Lieutenant-General Mahao who was allegedly killed by his juniors on June 25, 2015. 

The government deployed the foreign judges with a view that they will bring partiality to the “high profile” cases which were borne out of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) sponsored Commission, resulting in prosecution of the highly placed individuals from the former Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Mothetjoa Metsing, Minister of Development Planning Hon. Selibe Mochoboroane, former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and other soldiers and police, who are facing many charges from treason to murder, kidnapping to assault.

The EU Head of Delegation further noted that: “Previously, I have outlined that the support of the Judiciary has been and remains part of the European Union’s cooperation with Lesotho. Under our current cooperation, we are in the process of, in coordination with the National Authorising Officer, contracting new support programme to the Judiciary worth an estimated [M] 86 million over the next four years.

“The overall goal of the new programme is increased efficiency and quality in the delivery of justice, improved access to justice for all, with a focus on women, children and vulnerable groups, and lastly, increase accountability, transparency, integrity and credibility of justice programme directly addresses the overall challenges identified by the Judiciary in the medium-term future.”

In Novemeber 2011, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) extended Judge Hungwe’s contract until end of February 2022. Prior to that, he could not appear in court due to uncertainty over his contract, a move which caused the “high profile” cases he is presiding over to delay as there was no progress made during the waiting of the outcome of the status of his contract.

Justice Hungwe is hearing the cases of the murder of LDF Commander Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, the murder of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng and the bombs cases where LDF members face charges of detonating explosive devices and/or discharging Multi Grenade Launchers at the residence of Liabiloe Ramoholi (now ‘Maesaiah Thabane) at Moshoeshoe II and the then Commissioner of Police Khothatso Ts’ooana at Ha-Abia.