NSS agents fight back

NSS agents fight back

MASERU – SEVENTY-SIX National Security Service (NSS) agents fired under controversial circumstances last December are suing for reinstatement. In an urgent application, the agents say NSS boss Pheello Ralenkoane acted unlawfully when he dismissed them.
The Minister of Defence, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Public Service are also cited as respondents.
Ralenkoane said the agents had to be dismissed because they were not properly recruited and trained. He alleged that the officers had been trained by the military intelligence instead of national security.

In papers filed in the High Court by Advocate Motiea Teele KC the agents say it was not in dispute that they were properly hired and had received salaries from the NSS.

They say many of them had received appropriate training in intelligence gathering, self-defence and ammunition.
The government, the agents say, has since stopped their salaries despite the fact that they were still disputing the dismissals.
This, they add, has hit them hard because they are breadwinners. They want the court to hear their case urgently before they suffer irreparable damage.
“The respondents have since stopped our payment for the month of February 2018 on the basis of the terminations, which we submit are unlawful,” the agents say.

“If this application is not heard as a matter of urgency the manifestly unlawful act will only receive judicial condemnation after a long time as the roll of this court is clogged with cases and contested matters are being set down for hearing in 2019 and beyond.”
“This will prejudice both the applicants and the respondents and proper respect for the rule of law.”

The applicants say they fear that when the matter is finally heard after a long period of time “there would have been serious change of circumstances which might make this matter moot”.
Advocate Teele tells the court that the balance of convenience favours that the matter be treated as urgent because his clients cannot receive adequate relief in due course.

The lawyer says his attempts to meet the NSS boss to discuss the issue have been in vain. The agents say their case should be treated as urgent because it is clear that Ralenkoane’s decision is unlawful.

Ralenkoane as the functionary of the state, they say, has to be held to proper constitutional behaviour for the proper administration of public affairs.
They argue that they were hired by appropriate authorities of the NSS before Ralenkoane was appointed Director General.
They also argue that following their employment, they all signed contracts of employment and were allocated employment numbers in the Public Service.

“We were deployed at various posts in the NSS in different districts and earned a monthly salary,” the court papers read.
The applicants said the reasons cited by Ralenkoane are at any rate irrational and he has no authority to review the acts of his predecessors.

Advocate Teele further argues that firing such a huge number of agents trained in the use of firearms is likely to create a pool of potential criminals.
He says it is in the public interest that the legality of the termination of employment of such a large number of security personnel be determined as a matter of urgency.

Majara Molupe

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