Court saves di­plo­mats

Lesotho Times - - News - Staff Reporter

THE High Court yes­ter­day ruled in favour of four di­plo­mats who were chal­leng­ing their re­call by the Min­istry of For­eign affairs and In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

Bothata Tsikoane (In­dia), ‘Male­jaka Le­tooane (High Com­mis­sioner to South africa), Mophethe Seka­mane (Jo­han­nes­burg Consul-gen­eral), and dr ‘Maba­phuthi Moorosi-mo­lapo (High Com­mis­sioner to Malaysia) were served with re­call let­ters dated 21 au­gust 2015 but chal­lenged them in the High Court, ar­gu­ing they were “ir­reg­u­lar”.

In her rul­ing, Jus­tice ‘ Mase­shophe Hla­joane said the lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the re­spon­dents (Min­is­ter of For­eign affairs and In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, Min­istry of For­eign affairs Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, at­tor­ney Gen­eral and Govern­ment Sec­re­tary) were “very un­pro­fes­sional to have ad­vised their clients to act in the man­ner they did”.

The judge was re­fer­ring to the de­ci­sion by the re­spon­dents to with­draw the re­call let­ters and re­place them with ul­ti­ma­tums ask­ing the di­plo­mats to “show cause” why their con­tracts should not be ter­mi­nated be­cause their ap­point­ments had been made by a govern­ment that had since left of­fice.

The di­plo­mats ini­tially ap­proached the court to in­ter­dict the re­call let­ters writ­ten by For­eign affairs and In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions Min­is­ter Tlo­hang Sekhamane, ar­gu­ing they were “driven and in­spired by political con­sid­er­a­tions”.

The lit­i­ga­tion forced the min­is­ter to with­draw the let­ters on 28 Oc- tober but soon af­ter, Govern­ment Sec­re­tary Le­bo­hang ramohlanka is­sued the “show cause” ul­ti­ma­tum which the di­plo­mats’ lawyer, ad­vo­cate Mon­a­heng Seeiso rasekoai, chal­lenged on 6 Novem­ber.

The case was ar­gued in the High Court on 10 Novem­ber and the fol­low­ing day, Jus­tice Hla­joane said the re­spon­dents should have waited for her rul­ing in the main case be­fore pro­ceed­ing with the “show cause” let­ters as a new case.

In his ar­gu­ment, deputy at­tor­ney Gen­eral Tse­bang Put­soane, rep­re­sent­ing the re­spon­dents told the court, the “show cause” was a new case.

“There is no ob­struc­tion of jus­tice; it’s a new mat­ter; there is no re­la­tion­ship with the ini­tial case.

It is com­mon cause the re­call let­ter was with­drawn.”

How­ever, yes­ter­day Jus­tice Hla­joane said the re­spon­dents were in con­tempt.

“It was wrong to have ig­nored the fact that the mat­ter had still not been fi­nalised,” she said.

“It was im­proper for the re­spon­dents to have cor­rected their mis­takes in court by writ­ing a show cause let­ter in­side pro­ceed­ings in the main ap­pli­ca­tion when the court was yet to make its fi­nal de­ci­sion.”

Jus­tice Hla­joane fur­ther ruled the main ap­pli­ca­tion was not “moot” as sub­mit­ted by the re­spon­dents.

“The main ap­pli­ca­tion can never be said to be moot as the court still had to make a de­ci­sion af­ter the let­ter of re­call was with­drawn. The ap­pli­ca­tion is said to be moot if fur­ther le­gal pro­ceed­ings with re­gard to it can have no ef­fect or events

have placed it be­yond the reach of the law.

“The court still had to make a de­ci­sion even af­ter the let­ters of re­call were with­drawn. The move by the re­spon­dents, this time through the govern­ment sec­re­tary, was against the prin­ci­ple of sub ju­dice.

“The con­duct of the re­spon­dents to have writ­ten let­ters of show cause in the face of a pend­ing de­ci­sion is the one that prompted this court to have granted the prayers in the in­ter­locu­tory ap­pli­ca­tion. The con­duct of the re­spon­dents was bor­der­ing on con­tempt.

“re­gard­ing costs, the court is go­ing to demon­strate its dis­plea­sure against the re­spon­dents not to have waited for the de­ci­sion in the main ap­pli­ca­tion.

“as a re­sult since the re­call let­ters have been with­drawn, that ends the mat­ter in the main case,” the judge said.

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