THE former Commissioner of the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) has sued for reinstatement or M7 million compensation after she was sacked in November last year.
Ms ’Matefo Makhalemele filed the lawsuit in the High Court on Thursday, asking the court to order Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to reinstate her as the Commissioner of the LCS.
She also cited the Minister of Justice and Correctional Service, Mokhele Moletsane, the Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and the Attorney General, Haae Phoofolo, as the defendants in the case.
After her removal, Thabang Mothepu was appointed Acting LCS Commissioner in November 2017 before being made the substantive commissioner on 31 May 2018.
However, Ms Makhalemele has claimed in her court papers that her removal was unlawful and she should be reinstated.
She argues that her removal was unlawful from the beginning because the government failed to explain if she was being retired or expelled from the civil service.
Alternatively, she wants the government to pay her M7 million which she says is the amount due to her if she has been retired 17 years earlier than her ‘lawful’ retirement date on 2034.
She says, she wrote to the government seeking an explanation as to how her benefits would be calculated if she was being retired.
She further said the government did not explain if her pension would be calculated on the basis that she her lawful retirement date is 2034 or from the time she was removed from office in November 2017.
The 44 year-old former commissioner argues that she still has 17 years before the statutory retirement age which is 60 years.
“The plaintiff pleads that the decision of the Lesotho government to purportedly remove her from the office of Commissioner of Lesotho Correctional Service is unlawful for being irrational and unreasonable such that there is no reasonable decision maker who can make that type of decision,” Ms Makhalemele states in her court papers.
“The procedure followed to purportedly remove the plaintiff was through a letter requiring the plaintiff to make representations to the minister. This is contrary to the procedure provided for by law for the removal of a Commissioner of Lesotho Correctional Service.
“The plaintiff can only be removed from office on the basis of the recommendation of the tribunal set up for that purpose after having had the opportunity to see evidence presented against her.
“The plaintiff must also hear verbal testimony against her, cross-examine the witnesses, present arguments on the evidence and be given the opportunity, if found guilty which is highly unlikely, to mitigate the sanction.
The government has until next month to respond to Ms Makhalemele’s lawsuit.