High Court official sues Chief Justice

High Court official sues Chief Justice

MASERU – A senior High Court official is suing Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara for allegedly frustrating and sabotaging his two cases in which he is fighting for appointment.
In court papers filed this week, Acting Deputy Registrar Advocate Mojela Shale accuses Justice Majara of playing judge and jury to stifle his cases against her.
Advocate Shale says the chief justice is refusing to release files of the two cases.

He says Justice Majara is doing this with the help of Acting Registrar, Pontso Phafoli, whose appointment he has challenged in one of the cases.
He also alleges that the chief justice has roped in her lawyer Qhalehang Letsika in her scheme to block his access to the files.
Advocate Shale wants the files so he can file additional papers so the cases are finalised.

He says the chief justice is holding on to the files because she does not want the cases to proceed.
In the first case CIV/APN/49/2018 Shale is arguing that he had “legitimate expectation” to be appointed acting registrar after Acting Registrar Lesitsi Mokeke took a study leave earlier this year.
It was clear, he argues, that he is the next in line for the promotion because he has been Acting Deputy Registrar for seven years.
He says instead of following regulations that say an officer may be appointed in a “post that is in his or direct line promotion” the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) picked Phafoli, a junior, to be acting registrar.

He believes that he is being overlooked because the Mokeke and the chief justice have “formed a conclusion” that he leaked a damning audit report that reveals how the High Court is renting a M27 000 house for the chief justice when her allowance is a mere M4 000.
Advocate Shale claims Mokeke said they “rode roughshod over the JSC” to appoint Phafoli.
In the second case CIV/APN/86/2018 Advocate Shale is challenging the decision to advertise the Acting Deputy Registrar’s post which he has held for seven years.
He should have been given a hearing before the position was advertised, he argues.

Advocate Shale insists that in the absence of misconduct he had legitimate expectation to be confirmed acting deputy registrar.
This, he adds, is because the JSC “had resolved on many occasions to the Ministry of Public Service as the designated statutory authority, to regularise my appointment…”
He says despite being urgent the cases have not moved because the chief justice is refusing to release the files. He alleges that by holding on to the files the chief justice is denying him the right to a fair trial.

He wonders why the chief justice is keeping the files in her office when the standard procedure is that all files are kept at the Civil Registry.
“The Registrar and not the Chief Justice, is the legal custodian of all the court records,” he says.
“Further the Registrar and not the Chief Justice is responsible for pre-trial and trial arrangements as well as allocation of cases.”
The chief justice and the registrar are conflicted in both gases because they are the ones being sued, the advocate says.

“It is clearly against the precepts of natural law, the cornerstone of jurisprudence, that a litigant can keep, and allocate a case he is involved in.”
“I cannot for the death of me gainsay that she is the Chief Justice but she is highly conflicted and a legitimate litigant in all these matters.”
“They are metaphorically throwing me under a moving train by denying me access to the court’s files, file further papers and paginate the records, so the courts may reach finality on them.”
He argues that the chief justice as the supreme guarantor of human rights and promoter of fair trial and transparency, “is thwarting and perverting the course of justice”.
The advocate says the chief justice, through her secretary, has informed him that he has to file and paginate the papers in her chambers.

This, he adds, is not only illegal but unfair because her office is heavily guarded by armed bodyguards.
“Entry into her chambers is virtually impossible, to say the least. Even in the circumstances where entry into her chambers would be possible, it becomes impossible as she is constantly locked in meetings or consultations with her lawyers and my colleagues who happen to be the same individuals always”.

“I am being unfairly prejudiced by the Chief Justice so that I defeat the end of justice, and lose these important cases against her illegal and unethical decisions.”
Advocate Shale wants the court to order the chief justice and the acting registrar to release the files.
Justice Majara is in a brutal fight with the government over attempts to remove her over allegations that the High Court is renting her a house way above her accommodation allowance and she has failed to deal with the mounting backlog of cases in the courts.

The judge however insists that the government is making these allegations to justify purging her from the judiciary so that it can appoint a nobbled judge to lead the court.
In her corner are four senior lawyers who have been fighting what they say is the government’s attempt to capture the judiciary.
Advocate Shale’s case only adds to the chief justice’s recent woes and reflects the paralysis of the judiciary in Lesotho.

The battle over the appointment of Justice Kananelo Mosito as Court of Appeal judge has dragged on for two years, bringing the apex court to a standstill and leaving litigants stranded.
Magistrates have also been on an undeclared go-slow that has also forced the police to release suspects without taking them to court and left the prison authorities stuck with suspects whose cases have stalled.
And while all this is happening the backlog of cases continues to grow, hurting the common man.

Staff Reporter

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