Blow for fired min­istry work­ers

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

HIGH Court judge Jus­tice Te­boho Moiloa this week re­fused to grand an in­terim or­der that would have al­lowed 38 ap­pel­lants sacked by the Min­istry of De­fence to stay in em­ploy­ment un­til an ap­pli­ca­tion to block their dis­missal had been fi­nalised.

The 44 of­fice as­sis­tants were fired last week for al­legedly be­ing hired with­out the ap­proval of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (PSC).

They were re­cruited dur­ing the tri­par­tite coali­tion govern­ment led by then prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane.

Ac­cord­ing to their dis­missal let­ters signed by the Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity’s Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary (PS) ‘Mam­pho Kotelo-‘mo­laoa, the group was sup­posed to stop re­port­ing for work at the end of this month.

How­ever, only 38 of the fired em­ploy­ees filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the High Court on Fri­day last week to block the dis­missal.

The group also wanted the High Court to stop the PS from dis­miss­ing them un­til their ap­pli­ca­tion had been fi­nal­ized, as tem­po­rary re­lief.

The work­ers fur­ther wanted their case to be heard on an ur­gent ba­sis.

How­ever, Jus­tice Moiloa on Tues­day re­jected their prayer that they should re­main at work un­til their case has been fi­nal­ized. The judge how­ever, or­dered that the case should be heard on an ur­gent ba­sis.

He fur­ther or­dered the re­spon­dents, who in­clude the De­fence PS and At­tor­ney Gen­eral, to file their an­swer­ing pa­pers by 23 March 2016, while the ap­pli­cants should file their re­ply­ing pa­pers by 28 March 2016.

The case will be heard on 7 April 2016, while the dis­missed em­ploy­ees would have stopped re­port­ing for work on 31 March 2016.

Ac­cord­ing to their dis­missal let­ters, the of­fice as­sis­tants’ ap­point­ment by then De­fence PS Sehloho Moshoeshoe in March 2014 was un­law­ful be­cause it had not been sanc­tioned by the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

The let­ters, which are dated 25 Fe­bru­ary 2016, read: “In­vi­ta­tion to show cause why re­la­tion­ship be­tween the par­ties may not be ended . . .

“On the 6th March 2014, you were writ­ten a let­ter pur­port­edly ap­point­ing you as an Of­fice As­sis­tant in the Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity. Sub­se­quently, there was also a doc­u­ment signed by you and the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, giv­ing ef­fect to the pur­ported ( em­pha­sis added) ap­point­ment. The doc­u­ment is of­ten re­ferred to as a let­ter of of­fer of ap­point­ment.

“Re­gret­tably, I write to in­form you that it has since turned out that nei­ther the let­ter nor doc­u­ment re­ferred to above had the au­thor­ity/ap­proval of the law­ful ap­point­ing body for pub­lic of­fi­cers, the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion. You may wish to re­fer to sec­tion 137 (1) of the con­sti­tu­tion. Sec­tion 6 of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act of 2005 bears a sim­i­lar pro­vi­sion.

“The sad re­al­ity is that in law, there was there­fore, no ap­point­ment at all. We were all op­er­at­ing un­der a mis­ap­pre­hen­sion.

“It is in the light of the above that I re­gret to in­form you that I in­tend to bring to an end any form of ‘ em­ploy­ment’ re­la­tion­ship with you vis-à-vis the Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity, in­clud­ing ef­fect­ing stop­page of the ‘wages’ you have so far been paid; and also with­draw­ing and can­celling the ‘ap­point­ment’ let­ter (so-called) re­ferred to above, in­clud­ing any­thing which arose there­from.

“How­ever, even as I in­tend to pro­ceed in the man­ner de­scribed above, for fair­ness sake, the in­ten­tion is that 31st March 2016 shall be the end of any re­la­tion­ship be­tween you and the Min­istry of De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity.

“It is pos­si­ble that you may wish to com­ment on the mat­ter in writ­ing within seven days of re­ceipt thereof.”

The dis­missed em­ploy­ees are rep­re­sented by At­tor­ney Tu­misang Mosotho, while the re­spon­dents are rep­re­sented by King’s Coun­sel Motiea Teele.

HIGH Court judge Jus­tice Te­boho Moiloa

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