Monday the 12th September 2022 was supposed to be a day that brought back some measure of comfort for a family in distress. Of course while nothing could bring back their slain daughter they could at least look forward to the beginning of the journey to Justice.
Alas this was not to be. Dressed in his court finery counsel for the crown. the very man who the family belived embodied theor avenging angel calmly and nonchalantley asked the court that the case be postponed while he traced papers and statements that were missing. You could tell from his demeanor that he fully expected his request to be granted. After all the Lesotho judicial system has become know as a system of endless postponements and delays!
This particular case. R versus Qamo Matela comes a full year after the Mofolo family lost their daughter to murder allegedly at the hands of her husband. One Qamo Matela who today sits in court to answer this allegations a full year after the events.
A year in which a family has had not only to deal with grief but also the trepidation of not knowing if justice will be served at all. It has been a year in which women across the country continue to be murdered at an alarming rate. Their murderers emboldened by the belief that in this Lesotho that we live in they will face their day in court to answer for their crime in about 10 years when evidence has gone stale, witnesses have died and public sentiment has moved away to newer , more pressing issues.
It is against this backdrop that counsel for the crown dares to ask that this case be postponed!! There are cases that those in the legal fraternity refer to as career makers! This is one of them. With the country watching counsel for the crown had a chance to blow this out of the water and make a name for himself. Unfortunately through a mixture of what one can only assume is a mixture of apathy and ineptude he did make a name for himself. The wrong name. The name of a man who is comfortable resting on his laurels while murder continues with impunity.
Counsel for the defense on the other hand came prepared. You could tell from his stance and his insistence that the case proceed that he knows that he has very little to fear. The difference between defence lawyers and prosecution is that the guys on the defense side of the table know that open court is a chance for them to flex their muscles and prove their might. They know their success and pay check come from winning and they come armed to the proverbial teeth! The people on the opposite side of the table are guaranteed a paycheck no matter the outcome and this has led to a very relaxed attitude.
Luckily the matter of postponement was harshly criticised by the judge who granted only three days instead of the month long request.
For his part the accused had an air of unbecoming confidense in his voice as he answered that he understands what just happened and that the case has been postponed. Who can blame, he too has read the room and seen that baring a change of attitude from the crown he may yet walk away a free man.
While I hate to be wrong I pray that in this instance counsel for the crown will prove us wrong and come back to court and prove that we judged him too hastily.
R v Qamo Matela continues on Thursday the 15th September in The High Court of Lesotho.