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Magistrates defy Chief Justice’s order

Acting Chief Justice Maseforo Mahase

July 12, 2018 2 min read

2 min read

Following the Chief Justice’s July 9 directive for all Magistrates countrywide to resume work with immediate effect after they went on strike seeking the government’s attention to address some of the issues they say affect their daily work, the directive seems to have landed on deaf ears. The Maseru Magistrate’s court rooms are still “empty” while people who visit the courts go back home unattended.

Yesterday, some Prosecutors at the court who opted for anonymity revealed that they are telling people who come to court for their cases and witnesses to go back home as Magistrates are still not attending to cases. They also explained that even the few that are trying to work, they conduct their business in their chambers and not in open courts and this is also being done at a slow pace. One of the Prosecutors further disclosed that, on Tuesday, some of the Court Clerks also joined the seemingly ongoing strike by not registering new cases, saying their actions have also exacerbated the situation.

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Speaking in an interview with one of the ladies at court, Tebello Tseko, who seemed enraged and was about to exit the Magistrate’s Court gate, angrily explained that she is a witness in a fraud case that was supposed to have been heard by the court last Tuesday, but she has been coming to court from her workplace for the third time, adding that it is costly and time consuming for her. In her July 9 statement, the Chief Justice explained that she is aware of Magistrates’ concerns, which include among others, unsatisfactory working environment and lack of resources. She confirmed that she is currently in talks with the government to find a lasting solution to the situation.

In the meantime, Judicial Officers Association of Lesotho (JOALE) on July 5 issued a statement in which it nullified allegations that Magistrates countrywide were on strike. JOALE clarified that they were in fact in week-long meetings discussing the challenges they face as Magistrates in their work and how they could find solutions. The association also tabled some of their concerns as minimum wage, lack of resources, benefits and security. Lena

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