Court interpreters reject local judges

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Tefo Tefo

TEN High Court interpreters want recently appointed acting judge of the High Court, Justice Moroke Mokhesi, to recuse himself from presiding over their court application to have their professional status upgraded to that of Principal Interpreters.

The 10 Interpreters, last year filed summons in the High Court demanding the government to upgrade them as they allege they are being underpaid.

Their case has not seen the light of the day as they have demanded that the local judges recuse themselves from the case fearing they could be biased in adjudicating over their claim.

The 10 interpreters are Shabe Tsela, Molefi Thatho, Pheello Sehlabaka, ‘Matšita Rose Tšita, ‘Masuping Motšoari, Refiloe Kolobe, Nthabiseng Matsoso, Paballo Tilo, ‘Makeneuoe Mokhoro and ‘Malekhotso Mahloko.

They cite the Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, the Ministry of Public Service and the Attorney General as first to third defendants respectively.

The interpreters also want the government to compensate them on the grounds that they have been underpaid since 2005.

They have succeeded in their previous recusal applications, with the last one being the one in which the High Court judge, Justice Sakoane Sakoane, ruled last December that all the local judges should not preside over their case.

Their reason for seeking the recusal of all local judges is that they allege the local judges have a negative view about them, citing the resolution in the judges’ meeting in 2016, where the judges referred to them as “useless and incompetent”.

They also accuse the Chief Justice, Nthomeng Majara, of not reneging her promise of securing a foreign judge.

The interpreters filed the latest application on 28 March 2018 seeking the recusal of Justice Mokhesi who was allocated the case. This was despite the December 2017 ruling by Justice Sakoane that all local judges should not preside over their case.

Justice Mokhesi was appointed acting judge of the High Court in January this year from his magistracy position.

In the affidavit made by Mr Thatho on behalf of the 10 interpreters, they say Justice Mokhesi is likely to be biased because he was one of the magistrates who also did not support their move to take-up the matter with the courts of law.

He alleges that Justice Mokhesi would not hold a different view about the interpreters.

“I submit that the reason of the resolution of their Lordships in their meeting of the 29th April 2016, they are disqualified from presiding over our case so His Lordship Acting (Justice Mokhesi) as the position has not been changed or obliterated from the records,” Mr Thato says in his affidavit.

“I submit that the facts in this matter and legal authorities support the legal proposition that his Lordship Acting, their Lordships the honourable judges of this honourable court should recuse themselves on the basis of the remarks they made officially against the interested parties herein.

“Their Lordships relationship with the interpreters is that of superiors and juniors as the individual interpreters man almost every court for each of their Lordships.”

Mr Thatho adds: “The remarks which were made as a resolution which were conclusive against the interpreters require that their Lordships should all recuse themselves from this matter”.

“There is a threat or at least a genuine fear that there shall be no judicial impartiality in the case.”

Justice Mokhesi is expected to hear the recusal application against him and decide on it on 16 April 2018.

In the civil summons the 10 interpreters filed in court in 2015, they want the court to declare that “the proper position held by the interpreters in the High Court of Lesotho is that of Principal Interpreters”.

They also want to be paid the shortfall starting from 2013 until the time when the court will have made a judgment in their case.

Concerning their upgrade, they seek for an order “that the proper salary grade on which the interpreters of the High Court of Lesotho should be paid at is grade I.

“In the alternative, the interpreters of the High Court of Lesotho should not be paid salary below grade G; in the further alternative not below F,” part of their court papers state.

 

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