Court of Appeal  finally gets M1.9m

Court of Appeal finally gets M1.9m

MASERU – THE Court of Appeal will finally hear cases after it was given M1.9 million for the first quarter, thepost heard this week.
The court failed to sit for its April session with the chief accounting officer of the judiciary, High Court Registrar Pontšo Phafoli saying the judiciary was broke.
Phafoli could not be reached for comment yesterday with the spokeswoman for the judiciary, ’Mabohlokoa Mapikitla, saying she could not comment without authorisation from Phafoli.
However, the Chief Magistrate ’Matankiso Nthunya told a press conference on Tuesday that the Court of Appeal had been given M1.9 million to continue hearing cases.

Nthunya said although they were happy for the Court of Appeal, they as magistrates and other judicial officers were unhappy that their cries had fallen on deaf ears.
She said the magistrates had been given a measly M36 000 for the whole year.
“How are we going to operate with that little money given to us? When are we going to be heard?” Nthunya said.
Speaking at the Judicial Officers Association of Lesotho (JOALE)’s press conference, Nthunya said they had pleaded with the government to address their grievances since 2012 but were being ignored.
“But when the Court of Appeal said they cannot sit they are given money,” she said.
Nthunya said no one has bothered to look at the challenges faced by the magistrates countrywide.
“The reason why we are not working or why we are on the go-slow is not only because we are financially unstable, but for everyone to hear us including the government of Lesotho,” Nthunya said.

She said it is not like they are unhappy that the Court of Appeal has been given money for their proceedings but it only sits on sessions yet the commercial courts operate the whole year without money.
“To us, even if the Court of Appeal cannot sit for the whole year it does not matter to us because cases which are being heard there are for people who have money,” she said.
She said their courts are for the lowly ones.
She said due to what they are faced with people think they are corrupt yet they are not, they are just faced with circumstances which they cannot avoid.
“We find ourselves stuck in allegations we cannot defend ourselves from,” she said.
Nthunya said they are sometimes given lifts home by suspects whom they are questioning in court due to unavailability of cars for magistrates.

She said it is annoying that they are expected to deliver judgments against people they are forced to beg aid from.
She said the magistrates may be in court for a long time questioning the suspects and when the court adjourns and everyone gone the only person with a car is sometimes the same suspect.
“So one can just image how people will react when seeing a magistrate in a suspect’s car or his lawyer’s car.”
“How are they going to trust us? They are not going to trust us hence they say we are corrupt,” she said.
She said there are places which people like court messengers cannot reach without cars and sometimes, they release the convicts as one cannot deliver three convicts to prison using public transport alone.
“Our lives are in danger, we are not funded, the justice we deliver is not justice expected by the public,” she said.
“We tried talking to our Chief Justice who told us that yes we are independent but she does not keep money so we should talk to the Finance Minister.”

Itumeleng Khoete

 

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