– HIS MAJESTY KING LETSIE THE 3 RD
– THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE PRIME MINISTER
– HONOURABLE THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
– HONOURABLE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
– YOUR LORDRSHIP THE CHIEF JUSTICE
– HONOURABLE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
– HONOURABLE MINISTERS
– HONOURABLE JUDGES OF THE HIGH COURT
– MORENA OA SEHLOOHO OA SEBAKA LE MARENA A TENG KOANO
– THE DIRECTOR PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
– THE PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES HERE PRESENT
– THE REGISTRAR OF THE HIGH COURT AND THE COURT OF APPEAL
– CHIEF MAGISTRATES AND ALL JUDICIAL OFFICERS
– ALL LAW OFFICERS OF THE CROWN
– THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY AND MEMBERS OF THE BAR AND SIDE BAR
– MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA
– LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
1. This is my first time delivering remarks on an occasion as significant as this one since I assumed office as the Attorney General some ten months ago. It goes without a saying then that I feel a sense of both humility and honour to stand before you today.
2. We are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the inauguration of this, the Northern region division of the high court with the hope that the administration and delivery of justice to the people of our country is never going to be same again. We stand here with the hope that things are going to change for the better and not the worse. If my memory is not playing tricks on me the construction of this building started way back in 2013, and I believe that it is only fitting that its opening is graced by the presence of the Right Honourable The Prime Minister.
3. For the longest time the high court of Lesotho has operated under a lot of strain, operating with a limited number of Judges expected to serve the whole Nation, with a number of cases coming in growing by each passing day. The fact that the operations have been confined to Maseru all along has not helped matters. This has resulted in cases piling up and creating an untold backlog. In an attempt to tackle the ever growing backlog of cases, a few months back the high court held criminal session and I want to believe that the session has gone a long way in alleviating the strain on the court.
4. With the inauguration of this division, here today, the story has to change. It is everybody’s hope that the strain on the high court is going to ease and the delivery of justice is going to be quicker because what this inauguration means is that there will never be a need now for people of Leribe, Botha Bothe and Mokhotlong to travel to Maseru to access the high court.
5. I believe I am speaking on behalf of everyone when I say this should not be the last inauguration of its kind. We need many more occasions like this one with a view to transforming our judiciary, because another aspect of transforming judiciary is the accessibility to the courts. The Constitution of Lesotho, 1993 provides under section 118(3) that, “the Government shall accord such assistance as the courts may require to enable them to protect their Independence, integrity and effectiveness subject to this Constitution and any other law”.
6. The construction and inauguration today of this division is one example of transforming the judiciary, and what good is the transformation if it cannot help create a fair, just and progressive society with the rule of law as the cornerstone.
7. Two weeks ago there was a swearing in ceremony of the new judges of the high court. Your Lordships let me take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment to the Bench. You are coming in at the time when there is crisis in our criminal justice system. You are coming in at the time when the citizens of this country are losing confidence in our criminal justice system. I am well aware that this loss of confidence at times results from lack of knowledge and /or understanding on the part of the public, of how the criminal justice system works. You can reverse that and restore hope and trust in the Judiciary. Lead the way. Let those who cry for justice feel your presence. As the judicial officers you can only play your part effectively when the citizens of this country have confidence in the integrity, independence and impartiality of you as judges, and in the fact that due process is afforded to all who come before courts irrespective of their standing and without fear or favour.
8. But you cannot go alone. Even though an independent and a separate arm of State, the judiciary cannot function effectively without collaboration and partnership with other stakeholders. That is where the likes of the Law Society, the Attorney General Chambers and others come in. I want to think that for starters, it is high time that the judiciary, the Law Society and the Attorney General Chambers started a conversation on how best we can all serve our customers in order to achieve optimum results. I think that would go a long way restoring the eroded confidence of the Public.
9. Let me close my remarks by saying, I happen to have the privilege of sitting with the Honourable Chief Justice on the Judicial Service Commission. In the last few weeks, he has not been able to hide his relief at the prospect of having more judges on the bench and this court starting operations. My Lords, the new Justices, for my sake do not disappoint him. I do not want to sit on the Commission with a disappointed Chief Justice. It will affect our work negatively.
10. With those few remarks, I thank you all for your attention.