Court interpreters breathe fire

Court interpreters breathe fire

MASERU-EIGHT court interpreters want the High Court to hear their long-running five-year dispute with the government before the end of March.
One of the interpreters, Molefi Thatho, told thepost on Tuesday that even though they had not applied for their matter to be dealt with on an urgent basis, they believe their case was urgent.
He said the case was long overdue after because it has been dragging within the courts for the past five years without any valid reasons.

The court interpreters are Shabe Tšele, Molefi Thatho, Pheello Sehlabaka, Matsita Tšita, Masuping Motšoari, Refiloe Kolobe, Nthabeleng Matsoso and Makeneuoe Mokgoro.
They said at least four judges have handled their case over the years.
They want the government to compensate them as they allege that they have been underpaid since 2005.
“It goes without saying that this case should be treated urgently but it was only last year towards December when we were told the case had been postponed to 4 and 11 August 2019,” Thatho said.

They said in the minutes of a meeting held on 29 April 2016 chaired by the former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, it was stipulated that “ registrars are like interpreters in their delinquent behavior raising serious doubts about their qualifications and or competence and commitment,” Thatho said.

He said the statement raised a great concern about the prejudice among judges in dealing with their matter. As a result, they feel local judges must recuse themselves from hearing their case.
They said they are not happy after the matter was allocated to a local judge.

“The case was allocated to Justice Hlajoane who recused herself, then re-allocated to Justice Peete who recused himself too then we demanded international judge but the case was allocated to Justice Sakoane who also recused himself and now the case is In front of Acting Judge Mokhesi,” they said.
They said the postponement of the case was being deliberately done to frustrate justice.

“We even humbly requested that the case should be heard even on vacations but it never happened because we are taken as obstructionists when fighting for our rights,” they said.
Thatho said the postponement of their case contributes negatively on their work performance as they can’t fully focus on translating in court while what they think about their pending case.
“We want the government, Prime Minister Thabane and Basotho in general to know of our plight. There are other cases of a similar nature that the court has dealt with and judgments have been issued but with our case it’s a struggle.

“Not anyone can interpret hence we need to be taken as important tools in speeding up court proceedings. We want our case to be treated as urgent,” he said.
They said they will not wait for their case to be heard on August 2019. They added that had lost confidence in all local judges.

Thatho said they wanted judge Mokhesi who is currently allocated the case to recuse himself but he rejected the request.
They said the former Chief Justice Majara once promised to get foreign judges to preside over their case but to their dismay they were given local judges.

Thatho said they are intimidated and victimised while representing his colleagues.
“We are intimidated so that we stop voicing out our cries,” he said.
The High Court’s registrar Pontšo Phafoli said every Mosotho has to be treated equally irrespective of work occupation and if it happens her office is open for discussion to resolve grievances.
But the interpreters said even the High Court human resource office is not doing their duty of ensuring that the employees’ needs are taken care of.

Furthermore, they stipulated that there’s no assurance that the case will be heard in August.
“The court’s duty is to hear cases not to postpone them,” they said.
The interpreters filed their last application on 28 March 2018 seeking the recusal of Justice Mokhesi after Justice Sakoane ruled that all the local judges should recuse themselves in this case.

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