Judges asked to re­cuse them­selves

Sunday Express - - News -

TEN High Court in­ter­preters want all lo­cal High Court judges to re­cuse them­selves from the case in which the for­mer are seek­ing an up­grade of their pro­fes­sional po­si­tion by the govern­ment.

The in­ter­preters who on Mon­day filed an ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the court, al­lege their bosses could be bi­ased when ad­ju­di­cat­ing on their claim.

In 2015 they filed civil sum­mons in which they in­di­cated they wanted the court to de­clare that “the proper po­si­tion held by the In­ter­preters in the High Court of Le­sotho was that of Prin­ci­pal In­ter­preters.”

The in­ter­preters seek­ing the court’s in­ter­ven­tion are Shabe Tsela, Molefi Thatho, Pheello Sehlabaka, ‘Matšita Rose Tšita, ‘Ma­sup­ing Motšoari, Re­filoe Kolobe, Nthabiseng Mat­soso, Pa­ballo Tilo, ‘Mak­eneuoe Mokhoro and ‘Malekhotso Mahloko.

They have cited the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary for the Min­istry of Jus­tice and Hu­man Rights, Min­istry of Public Ser­vice and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral as first to third de­fen­dants re­spec­tively.

Al­though the in­ter­preters claim they had been un­der­paid by the govern­ment since 2005, they want to be paid the short­fall ac­crued start­ing from 2013 un­til the time when the court will have made a judg­ment in the case.

“That it is hereby de­clared that the in­ter­preters in the High Court of Le­sotho have been con­tin­u­ously been un­der­paid from 2005 to the date of fi­nal­i­sa­tion of these pro­ceed­ings and al­ter­na­tively, the de­fen­dants are or­dered to pay the plain­tiffs’ un­der­pay­ments from Jan­uary 2013 to date of the judg­ment.

“That the de­fen­dants be or­dered to fill in the po­si­tion of Chief In­ter­preter that re­mains va­cant,” reads part of the sum­mons.

Con­cern­ing their pro­fes­sional up­grade, they seek: “that it is hereby or­dered that the proper salary grade on which the In­ter­preters of the High Court of Le­sotho should be paid at is grade I. In the al­ter­na­tive, the in­ter­preters of the High Court of Le­sotho should not be paid salary be­low grade G; in the fur­ther al­ter­na­tive not be­low F.”

Cur­rently, the in­ter­preters want the lo­cal High Court Judges to re­cuse them­selves from the case as they ex­press no con­fi­dence in their bosses.

In the re­cusal ap­pli­ca­tion they filed on Mon­day, Mr Thatho at­tached his af­fi­davit in sup­port of the ap­pli­ca­tion.

“The rea­sons for re­cusal of all the Judges of this Hon­ourable court shall be im­me­di­ately stated herein be­low.

“I aver (af­firm) that orig­i­nally this mat­ter was al­lo­cated to Her Lady­ship (‘Mase­shophe) Hla­joane J. I sub­mit that Her Lady­ship Hla­joane J. re­cused her­self from the word go.

“The rea­sons for her re­cusal was that Her Lady­ship was at the time the Head of the Strate­gic Plan for the ju­di­ciary and she had an in­side into the mat­ter of our dis­pute.

“The mat­ter was al­lo­cated to His Lord­ship Peete J. I aver that His Lord­ship Peete J. re­cused him­self also. The mat­ter was then placed be­fore Her Lady­ship (Nthomeng) Ma­jara CJ (Chief Jus­tice),” he stated.

He al­leged they were in­formed by Deputy Regis­trar, whom he did not men­tion by name, that the Chief Jus­tice had in­di­cated that the case would be al­lo­cated to any of the judges who come from out of Le­sotho who have been com­ing to Le­sotho to pre­side over cases from time to time.

“I sub­mit that it took a long time with­out the com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the of­fice of the Regis­trar or Chief Jus­tice,” he added.

He fur­ther al­leged they had in­structed their lawyer to se­cure an ap­point­ment with the Chief Jus­tice, but “the Chief Jus­tice re­fused to meet with us and our coun­sel.”

How­ever, he says they were later in­formed that a Judge from South Africa, whose name was not re­vealed to them, had been se­cured and the date of hear­ing would be set.

Mr Thatho said in the new turn of events they were told that the South African Judge would no longer be se­cured to pre­side over their case un­less they lodged a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion for re­cusal of the High Court Judges.

In the cir­cum­stances he avers “I sub­mit that we ap­ply for re­cusal of His Lord­ship and the whole bench of the High Court of Le­sotho.”

He also al­leges it would not be fair for the lo­cal High Court judges to pre­side over their case be­cause they had bad feel­ings about them.

“The gen­eral view that the whole bench of the court has about us is that we are use­less. It is there­fore not proper that any of their Lord­ships should pre­side over our cases when they have al­ready pre-de­ter­mined it.”

Mr Thatho makes a damn­ing rev­e­la­tion of what was re­solved in one of the judges’ meet­ings. He al­leges the judges con­sid­ered them as “delin­quent”, among other is­sues.

He quotes one of the res­o­lu­tions as: “It was also re­solved that Regis­trars are like In­ter­preters in their delin­quent be­hav­iour, rais­ing se­ri­ous doubts about their qual­i­fi­ca­tions and/or com­pe­tence and com­mit­ment.”

He says the above ex­tract comes out of the min­utes of the meet­ing the Judges held on 29 April 2016.

The lawyers are ex­pected to ap­pear in court to­mor­row to de­ter­mine how the ap­pli­ca­tion would be dealt with.

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