Acting Chief Justice Mahase read her decision as a response to the request submitted by Advocate Motiea Teele KC on behalf of the applicant, Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, that she should recuse herself as she was the involved party.
As a result of the ruling, a panel of judges to deal with the matter involving the application of the suspended Chief Justice Majara will be assigned and assembled as soon as possible “as per the Acting Chief Justice’s Administrative Directives.”
The Registrar, according to the ruling of the Acting Chief Justice Mahase, will inform the parties on the dates on which the judges will be available.
“In exercise of my powers as Acting Chief Justice I have an administrative duty to see to the regulation of the distribution of the business of the court, including with respect to the business of the present matter,” she said.
The ruling reinforced her stance of rejecting request to recuse herself and instead delegate the matter on the grounds after Adv. Teele submitted that she was party to the proceedings and was therefore likely to be bias.
Chief Justice Majara was suspended in September following a letter that she was written by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane asking her to explain why she could not be suspended, for alleged deeds of misconduct, and be impeached.
The 8-page ruling by the Acting Chief Justice Mahase came after a sequel of arguments raised by Adv. Teele KC objecting her presiding over the application indicating that, amongst others, she was cited as a third respondent in the application challenging the latter’s suspension and therefore her presiding over the case conflicted her.
Adv. Teele had submitted that she must recuse herself and hand over the matter to the allocating office. He also argued that she could not even make a ruling in a matter she was not presiding or she could not preside.
On his part on behalf of the respondent, Advocate Koili Ndeble had contended that the acting chief justice, in terms of sections of the High Court Rules and the Interpretation Act, cannot delegate the powers of the Chief Justice. Adv. Ndebele pointed out that those powers were to be exercised by the chief justice in person or another judge as contemplated by section 120 of the constitution.
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