Blow  for Ntsibolane

Blow for Ntsibolane

MASERU – THE High Court has dismissed an application challenging the dismissal from work of Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) spokesman, Letsatsi Ntsibolane.

Justice Keketso Moahloli said Ntsibolane, who applied for an interim relief against his dismissal on Tuesday, failed to address and satisfy all requirements for the granting of the interim relief he sought.

“As a result, the court has no discretion to grant him such relief,” Justice Moahloli said.
Ntsibolane filed an urgent application in the High Court opposing the decision of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) to dismiss him from the teaching service with effect from January 31.

Ntsibolane had asked that the court stay the TSC’s decision to fire him pending finalisation of the case.
He also asked the court to stay the TSC’s decision to stop payment of his monthly salary pending the finalisation of the case.
“I am the sole breadwinner in my family. I have two children who are students, and whose school fees need to be paid,” Ntsibulane said in court papers.

“I also have insurance policies which might lapse if I fail to pay monthly premiums,” he said.
“Furthermore, I will also lose my terminal benefits if I am dismissed and my reputation may be damaged irreparably given the allegations that I have called illegal strikes.”

Ntsibulane said this “might make it difficult for me to find employment anywhere in the future”.
His attorney Khotso Nthontho contended that in deciding whether or not to stay the TSC’s decision to dismiss his client, the court should be guided by the principle enunciated by Justice ’Maseshophe Hlajoane in a case between Matsobane Putsoa and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice Chancellor.

Justice Hlajoane said in matters such as this the courts are guided “by the principle whether the applicant would suffer more prejudice if the execution proceeded than the prejudice the respondent would suffer if the execution was stayed”.

However, Justice Moahloli explained that what Nthontho omitted to mention was that the dictum was made in the context of an application to stay the execution of a court judgment pending appeal, and not the stay of a dismissal pending a court challenge.
“The approach laid down by our Court of Appeal to determine an applicant’s right to an interim interdict, both prohibitory and mandatory, or other interim relief, was well established,” Justice Moahloli said.

He said an application should “establish a clear… well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm, a balance of convenience in favour of the granting of interim relief, and the absence of any other satisfactory remedy”.
“An interim interdict is a court order preserving or restoring the status pending the final determination of the rights of the parties, irrespective of what an applicant chooses to call it in his papers,” the judge said.

“It is an extraordinary remedy within the discretion of the court. As the results of this, requisites are not judged in isolation, but in interaction with each other,” he said.

He explained that the court can refuse an interim interdict even if the requisites have been established.
“But a court has no discretion to grant an interim interdict if the requirements have not been established,” he said.
“A strict legal right to interim relief must be established, not simply a moral or equitable right.”
Justice Moahloli further emphasized that mere loss of income and benefits does not amount to special circumstances justifying interim relief, nor does it establish urgency.

He said in order to succeed when reliance was based on financial hardship, exceptional circumstances must be shown before urgent interim relief can be granted.

“The rationale of this approach, in dismissal cases, was simply that every dismissed person invariably suffers patrimonial loss, hence the court will not easily assume that patrimonial loss itself was enough to establish an apprehension of irreparable harm,” he said.
“It has been held that damage to an employee’s reputation was similarly not an adequate ground of interim relief, as the aggrieved employee could clear his name in the pending proceedings, or seek relief in the civil court,” he continued.
Ntsibolane was dismissed from the teaching service on January 31 for allegedly promoting illegal strikes by teachers.
Ntsibolane was teaching at Lithabaneng High School in Maseru.

Itumeleng Khoete

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