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More car woes for judges

Staff Reporter


MASERU — It never rains but pours for Lesotho’s High Court judges.

Four of the country’s 10 High Court judges are struggling to come to work after their official vehicles broke down recently.

Some have been forced to use public transport while others have had to borrow vehicles from friends.

Still others have had to use their personal vehicles.

This is because the government, sources said, has failed to hire vehicles for the judges while their vehicles are being fixed or serviced.

They have been told that the government does not have money to hire replacement vehicles for them.

Last year, the Sunday Express revealed how Justice Maseforo Mahase had been reduced to hitch-hiking after the court had failed to hire a vehicle for her while her official car was being fixed.

She eventually got her vehicle around Christmas after nearly two months of using public transport and asking for a lift from fellow judges.

But the Sunday Express can this week reveal that Justice Mahase is now using public transport again after her official vehicle broke down three weeks ago.

It has not been fixed and no alternative vehicle has been hired for her.

“She is now using public transport again,” a source at the High Court said.

The source said Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane’s official vehicle broke down some weeks ago and she has not had a vehicle since then.

She too has been struggling to come to work. 

The sources said Justice Chaka-Makhooane’s vehicle was involved in an accident.

Justice Thamsanqa Nomncongo also went for weeks without his official vehicle.

Justice Tseliso Monaphathi is understood to have resorted to friends’ vehicles after the court failed to get him a replacement car.

This paper was told that court officials were only informed on Friday that Justice Monaphathi’s car was ready for collection.

This was after he had spent months using a borrowed vehicle.

Yet the lack of vehicles is not the only problem facing the bench.

This paper understands that judges are also battling to get their allowances.

Every judge is entitled to a “responsibility allowance” of M4 000 every month but sources close to the judges say they have not been getting it consistently.

The last payment they got, the sources added, was for the period from May to September 2009.

“Now they are still waiting for their allowances,” said the source.

The court has also not been paying judges’ domestic servants as stipulated by last year’s amendment of their working conditions.

Last year the government elevated judges to the same grade as cabinet ministers.

This meant that, like ministers, the judges’ maids and gardeners would be paid by the state.

But this has not been happening.

The registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal, ‘Mathato Sekoai, said the court had run out of funds to hire vehicles but the situation was likely to return to normal when they get their allocation from this year’s budget.

“Imperial Fleet Management, which still repairs judges’ vehicles, no longer provides us with courtesy vehicles when they take the cars for service,” Sekoai said. 

“Avis Fleet Services, which is now in charge of government vehicles, requires us to hire vehicles.

“We could have done that if we had the money but we have run out of our budget.”

She said they had also budgeted to pay judges’ servants this year.

“We are aware of that amendment but we had not budgeted for it last year. This time we have budgeted for it,” Sekoai said.

“The judges will be reimbursed what they have paid since the amendment came into effect.”

The other reason for the delay, Sekoai said, was that the posts for the gardeners and maids had not been created as required by the public service regulations.

“As for the responsibility allowances I have checked and can tell you that they have been getting it,” she said.

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