LCS boss sued for contempt of court

  • faces jail time if convicted for failing to implement 2019 order to reverse promotions

Mohalenyane Phakela

LESOTHO Correctional Service (LCS) Acting Commissioner, Chabana Majara, faces the prospect of being jailed for contempt of court over his failure to reverse the 2015 promotions within the LCS in line with a May 2019 Court of Appeal ruling. This after the Lesotho Correctional Service Staff Association (LCCSA) last Friday filed a High Court application for an order compelling Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli to arrest him if he does not comply with the apex court ruling within 30 days starting from 6 November 2020.

Commissioner Majara, Commissioner Molibeli, the Officer Commanding Maseru Central Police Senior Superintendent ‘Mapuleng Setsumi, and Attorney General Haae Phoofolo are the first to fourth respondents respectively in the application.

The application is in connection with the promotions of eight officers by the then LCS Commissioner, ‘Matefo Makhalemele, in 2015.

Former LCS Commissioner, Thabang Mothepu, who was fired on 24 July 2020, was among those whose promotions were revoked by the Court of Appeal. Mr Mothepu had been promoted to assistant commissioner at the time.

Other who were promoted were one K. Moeno (to the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner), M. Raphuthing (Acting Assistant Commissioner), one Selahla (Senior Superintendent), one Ntsasa (Superintendent), a Rammasa and a Bereng (Assistant Superintendents). Another officer, only identified as M. Phamotse, was also promoted to Acting Deputy Commissioner.

Superintendent Raphuthing’s promotion was the only one which was reversed by Mr Mothepu when he took over as LCS boss in 2018.

One of the reasons cited for Mr Mothepu’s dismissal by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro was that he had been unprocedurally appointed to the top job by the previous Thomas Thabane government. He was also accused of failing to implement the apex court ruling to revoke the 2015 promotions. He has since challenged his dismissal in the High Court.

At the time the Court of Appeal issued its ruling in May 2019, Commissioner Majara was the LCS Head of Legal Affairs. In essence, he was Mr Mothepu’s legal advisor.

It is now four months since he took over the reins from Mr Mothepu albeit in an acting capacity. But he has not made any attempt to implement the apex court ruling.

In fact, an LCS circular dated 10 September 2020 shows that he acted contrary to the court ruling by reinstating Superintendent Raphuthing to the post of acting assistant commissioner.

He also promoted three other officers to top posts. These are Assistant Commissioner Mating Nkakala (promoted to Acting Deputy Commissioner), Assistant Commissioner Matete Mahao (promoted to Acting Senior Assistant Commissioner) and Superintendent Nolo Jonkomane who is now an Acting Assistant Commissioner. The promotions were with effect from 1 September 2020.

The LCCSA, which had successfully challenged the 2015 promotions in the High Court and Court of Appeal, is unhappy with the latest promotions as well as Commissioner Majara’s failure to reverse the 2015 promotions.

It has therefore sued Commissioner Majara for contempt of court. It wants him jailed for the alleged contempt.

“The first respondent (Commissioner Majara) shall purge his contempt in compliance with an order of court that was granted against him within 30 days from the day these proceedings are filed (6 November 2020),” the LCCSA states in its prayers.

“The first respondent (should) be arrested and brought before this court to show cause why he may not be committed to prison for contempt of court in the event that he fails to purge his contempt.

“The second respondent (Commissioner Molibeli) is ordered to direct the third respondent (Senior Superintendent Setsumi) to arrest the first respondent for the contempt of court,” the LCCSA further states.

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