Three judges of Tanzania’s highest court have confirmed conviction and sentence of a Chinese national, Song Lei, after 11 rhino horn were found in a ‘secret chamber’ of his Toyota Hilux. However, the court upheld the acquittal of three other men who were with him at the time. This follows the widely welcomed arrest, trial and initial conviction of all four as well as the tough sentences imposed on them in 2016. Among those most elated by the initial conviction were members of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF). That task force, from seven countries in the region, had worked with Interpol to bring the four men to trial. Since then, however, two appeals have reduced the success of the LATF operation in relation to the four accused, underlining just how difficult it is to secure convictions in such cases.
Lesotho’s current political bosses – and the country’s economy – have been dealt a new blow. The high court of Lesotho, sitting as a constitutional court, has ruled that plans for dealing with repayment of generous government-guaranteed loans made to two categories of officials, are discriminatory and unconstitutional. Everyone who was given such a loan will now have to be treated in the same way, with the government paying all remaining loans back to the bank, in full. The court also made a strong but unexpected call for constitutional changes that would ‘more meaningfully’ separate the legislature from the executive. The three judges further complained about the escalating number of cases that came before the courts challenging the validity of regulations. It was so bad that the judiciary was justified in feeling sceptical about whether parliament did its work properly in overseeing such regulations, the court said.
Kenya’s constitution says that the currency of that country ‘shall not’ bear the ‘portrait’ of any individual. So, when new bank notes were issued earlier this year, depicting the Kenyatta International Convention Centre with Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, clearly distinguishable, seated alongside the building, the question arose whether the new notes were constitutional. Two of the presiding judges felt they had to solve the legal conundrum by deciding whether the bank notes bore a ‘portrait’ of Kenyatta – or if it was just a picture of a statue.
When prominent Tanzanian legal counsel, Fatma Karume, argued a recent case in the high court of Tanzania, she could not have anticipated the full outcome. Sure, she lost the case, but this is something all lawyers must assume may happen at any time and in any case. But how could she have known she would also raise the anger of her court opponents and the presiding judge? Citing argument by opposing counsel that her argument had been rude and ‘inappropriate’, the judge decided to suspend Karume – immediate past president of the Tanganyika Law Society – from practice. He also ordered the registrar of the high court to refer a ‘professional misconduct matter’ to the advocate’s disciplinary committee.
Three daughters have gone to court to fight for their right to inherit from their father. This, after their brothers had divided the estate among themselves, deliberately withholding from Kenya’s high court the fact that the sisters even existed.
As one of four daughters myself, I always enjoy a story where sisters stand up together against injustice aimed at any (or all) of them. This is just such a matter, involving the estate of Daniel Kamau who died in 2001. He left six sons and six daughters – but no will.