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‘I want my job back’

by Lesotho Times
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Mosisili accuser fights for reinstatement

MASERU — The woman who accused Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of having an extra-marital affair with a cabinet minister two years ago wants her job in the government back.

‘Maketso Motjope (pictured) was fired from the Ministry of Finance in 2007 after she was convicted and sentenced for defaming Mosisili.

She was an office assistant in the ministry.

However, Motjope says the dismissal was unfair and unprocedural.

She has been fighting for reinstatement in the High Court since January 2008.

Motjope yesterday told the Lesotho Times that Moeketsi Majoro, then principal secretary in the Ministry of Finance, had expelled her without affording her a hearing.

“He just wrote a dismissal letter but he did not consider following procedures,” Motjope said.

She was dismissed on the basis of the Public Service Act of 2005 which says a civil servant who has been convicted in a criminal case is liable for dismissal.

But the same law also requires that a person be given a hearing before a decision to expel her or him is reached.

“I was not charged or given a hearing before I was dismissed from work,” Motjope said.

“This was against procedure as required by the same law upon which they relied on when expelling me.”

Chief Magistrate Molefi Makara in August 2007 convicted Motjope for crimen injuria after she and other two men published pamphlets that defamed Mosisili.

The pamphlets alleged that Mosisili had a love affair with Local Government Minister Pontsó Sekatle.

Motjope was slapped with a two-year jail term with an option of a fine of M2 000.

Half of the sentence was suspended.

She paid the fine.

Makara also ordered Motjope to write a letter of apology to Mosisili and other cabinet ministers who were defamed in the pamphlets.

In December 2007, after the court case was concluded, Majoro wrote Motjope a letter of dismissal.

“Whether I was convicted by the Magistrates’ Court or not I was supposed to appear before the ministry’s disciplinary committee before I could be expelled,” Motjope said.

On Tuesday Justice Tséliso Monaphathi postponed Motjope’s case before the High Court to a date to be arranged after her lawyer, Booi Thabane, failed to turn up for court proceedings.

“It seems there is no appearance for the applicant (Motjope),” Justice Monaphathi said.

“Therefore the case is postponed sine die. My sympathies to the applicant.”

Motjope however said she was not aware the case was scheduled to proceed on Tuesday.

She said the delay to finalise the case had left her stranded because she was finding it hard to send her children to school.

“I am stranded indeed,” she told the Lesotho Times.

“My 20-year-old son had to drop out of school because I could not afford his school fees.

“He was supposed to sit for the junior certificate examination at the end of this year.

“I also had to send my 14-year-old daughter to school for her Form A classes but I am not able to do so because I have no money to pay for her school fees,” she added.

Motjope said she wanted the High Court to order her              reinstatement at work so that she could provide for her family.

“All I want is for the court to reinstate me,” she said.

Defence lawyer Advocate Lebakeng Mokhehle, however, told Justice Monaphathi on Tuesday that the respondents — the Ministry of Finance principal secretary and Attorney-General Tsókolo Makhethe — had a reason to dismiss Motjope.

Although he did not elaborate, he said “procedure was followed” in Motjope’s dismissal.

Majoro is no longer the principal secretary.

His successor, Mosito Khethisa, now carries the responsibility in Motjope’s case.

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