M7m for judge to walk away

M7m for judge to walk away

MASERU – JUSTICE Nthomeng Majara has become an instant millionaire after the government paid her a staggering M7 million to resign as Chief Justice, thepost can reveal.
Justice Majara resigned early last month after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane waged a protracted battle to remove her from office on allegations of misconduct that she has strenuously denied.
She has labelled the charges “trumped up”.

Her resignation followed a long-drawn-out court battle that ended with a settlement that thepost has seen. The agreement was signed on September 11 last year but its details have been kept under wraps.
The agreement says Justice Majara, government officials and court officials will not talk to the media about its contents.

Although the agreement does not mention figures judicial sources have told thepost that Justice Majara was recently paid M10 million to walk away.
She however took home M7 million after taxes, according to highly placed sources privy to the details of the payment.

How the amount was calculated is not mentioned in the agreement but it could be based on her official retirement age.
At 57, Justice Majara was still 18 years away from a judge’s official retirement age of 75. Her gross salary as the chief judge was around M46 000.
Without allowing for annual escalations, she was going to earn M9 936 000, before taxes, over the next eighteen years.

That puts the figure close to the final settlement of M10 million. The agreement shows that the only entitlement Justice Majara would forfeit were “the per diem allowances that were due and payable before the parties entered into and concluded” the Settlement Agreement”.

It says Justice Majara would submit her resignation to the Prime Minister and the King immediately after receiving proof that the government had paid.
The judge also agreed to withdraw the case in which was challenging her suspension. Several judicial sources said the money could not have come from the judiciary because it is broke.

Justice Majara was suspended in September 2018, almost exactly four years after her appointment during Thabane’s first coalition government.
Thabane accused her of renting a M27 000-per-month mansion from a fellow judge, hiring private lawyers to represent her with the Attorney General’s permission, bringing the judiciary into disrepute by having a “verbal spat” the Minister of Law and gallivanting on international trips instead of managing the courts.

Other charges were that she failed to hear contested cases, deliver judgments in two years and discipline errant judges.
Justice Majara however vehemently denied the allegations and instead accused Thabane of concocting the charges to get rid of her.
Thabane’s plan, she argued in court papers, was to replace her with a malleable and politically sympathetic Chief Justice.

Thabane has since advised the King to appoint Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase as her substantive replacement.
But Justice Mahase seems to have found banana peels scattered on her path to becoming the Chief Justice.

As Majara retreats from the public eye, Justice Mahase has found herself in the middle of a storm that might sabotage her rise.
The chief instigator of her troubles is former Minister Lebohang Hlaele, the All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s secretary general who has fallen out with Thabane, his father-in-law.

Last Thursday Hlaele’s lawyer, Koili Ndebele, asked the King to ignore Thabane’s advice to confirm Justice Mahase.
Hlaele argued that it would be inappropriate to appoint Justice Mahase when there is a pending case in which he is seeking to compel the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to impeach her for alleged bias.

In that case Hlaele argues that Justice Mahase is unfit to be a judge because she showed brazen bias when she was dealing with cases between the ABC’s warring factions.
Justice Mahase is seen as close to Thabane and her husband, who faces fraud charges, is a staunch ABC supporter.

Others view Thabane’s attempt to promote Justice Mahase as a plot to stack the judiciary and other state institutions with pliable individuals who will do his bidding when he leaves office.

Thabane has said he intends to leave office but has not mentioned a date.
He has however said he will fire Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli before he leaves office, a move that could further confirm suspicions that he wants to clear the deck of senior officials he perceives as unfriendly and might give him sleepless nights when he retires.

Staff Reporter

 

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