â€¦want him left alone and freed from clutches of public opinion court
A few hours after his appearance before court for charges of sexual assault in the Maseru Magistrateâ€™s Court, Transformation Resource Centre (TRC)â€™s Executive Director Tsikoane Peshoaneâ€™s legal team came out guns blazing telling the media that their client was being unfairly subjected to the court of public opinion which has already sentenced him.
The TRC boss is charged with sexually abusing some of his female employees since 2018.
Peshoaneâ€™s legal team however applied for stay after his remand as they felt a number of accounts had to be considered before proceeding with the case which the high court granted postponing the matter to July 22, 2022.
Following the high courtâ€™s decision, Peshoane and his lawyers took to the media to explain that he has been subjected to the court of public opinion saying everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
â€œIn the first place, we hold the strong view that every man or woman for that matter is innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. This narrative is not merely for the sake of saying but embodied in the supreme law of the land. If that principle holds true, it means that Mr. Peshoane Tsikoane is innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law,â€ said Peshoaneâ€™s Attorney Monaheng Rasekoai as he read what he explained to be an instruction from his client.
Rasekoai said the stereotypes and prejudices play a part in cases of this nature and it becomes even difficult for not only an accused person in such circumstances but also the defence lawyers who play a part to conduct themselves with the requisite demeanor and deportment required of them.
He complained that some of the media platforms have been consistent in their narrative and have endeavoured to engage in a full-scale commitment to convict him prior to him having his day in court or at a criminal trial.
He said the reasonable conclusion that one may have is that the purpose or perhaps one should say: the ulterior motive-is to subject him to the court of public opinion and to undermine both his esteem and dignity in his private and professional life.
â€œThe client has since noted with deep concern and consternation the narratives which have been doing the rounds in media platforms and social media. These narratives peddle a preconceived idea or conclusion that Mr. Peshoane is a sexual predator.â€
He said these efforts bear the potential of rearing an ugly head if they go unabated. â€œWe say this because beyond discrediting him as a person there are efforts to consequently discredit the organization which he leads.
Rasekoai asked if justice is a complex animal which must be driven by emotions and subjective opinions or is justice about evaluation of facts and a conclusion of whether such facts lead one to proof beyond reasonable doubt that indeed the alleged transgressions have been committed.
â€œThese unwarranted attacks defy the principles which underpin the criminal justice system. Whatever motives may have inspired this, they bear the potential of affecting not only the esteem of our client but they also bear the potential of discrediting the hard-earned esteemed of TRC as one of the most vibrant, dynamic civil society organizations this country has ever seen,â€ he said.
He added that they often try to avoid bigotry and melodrama which is often showcased in platforms where activists who advocate against what is often termed as gender-based violence will rave and rant about the need to have sexual predators and female abusers incarcerated.
â€œWe seldom hear of the same activists bemoaning the inherent dangers of some women who lie about having been abused. We seldom hear of the media platforms which deal in detail and depth about women who bear hallmarks of evil and who accuse men of insidious acts for self-serving ends.
â€œOur view is that justice has no gender and neither does it accommodate prejudices. We must focus on the notion and the concept of justice.â€
He said justice entails truth, honour, integrity but most of all the need to be protective of the values anchored on a free but fair society.
They urged on law enforcement agencies, courts of law, the media and perhaps society as a whole to avoid playing to the theatrics of bigotry and prejudice but to judge and decide each case on its merits.
â€œLet’s, avoid subjecting people to the court of public opinion because it is not and will never be aligned to the notion of justice,â€ Rasekoai said.
Meanwhile, Peshoane who had hitherto been quiet declared his innocence saying that he would maintain his silence and rather shift his focus to the work of the TRC.