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Hoeane job bait backfires

Business

Lerato Matheka

Some of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) members have allegedly rejected the name of Advocate Thulo Hoeane for a position of Registrar of Court of Appeal, Newsday has learned.

According to sources close to the Commission, Hoeane was enticed with the position as a kickback for playing a role in ‘derailing’ the ongoing All Basotho Convention (ABC) court battle.

The position according to sources does not exist in the judicial structure and was proposed for creation as a token of thanks to the lawyer.

A source who spoke to Newsday on condition of anonymity revealed that the Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) ‘Maseforo Mahase and Attorney General Advocate Haee Phoofolo (KC) suggested Hoeane for a position of Appeal Court Registrar, a position which the source said does not exist within the judicial structure.

In the said meeting held in Maseru earlier this month, made suggestions that the position be created for the lawyer once he confirms the offer.

Hoeane last Friday abandoned an order he was granted by ACJ Mahase before the appeal court.

He had earlier been granted a default judgement in an ex parte (one sided) application that he filed in the High Court on behalf of his clients, Motseki Lefera, ’Matumisang Ntiisa and Martha Makhohlisa challenging the legitimacy of the ABC elective conference held at Lehakoe in Maseru on February 1 and 2. The judgement was done by Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase.

The judgement nullified the party’s 1 and 2 February 2019 elective conference, granted the ‘old’ ABC national executive committee interim to remain in office and ordered for a constitutional reform of the party.

The matter was appealed last Friday where Hoeane abandoned the order after being grilled by a panel of Appeal Court Judges.

The matter was confirmed by Phoofolo who said the name was not suggested by him, but indeed Hoeane’s name was among those vying for the unavailable post.

He told Newsday that the meetings of the commission are well managed with the agenda confirmed before the date of the meetings.

“We get a folder with the meeting’s agenda and issues to discuss, so for whoever to alleged that I am, the one that nominated Hoeane’s name is rubbish.”

“Yes, Hoeane’s name along with other names were nominated for such a position, but I should really make it known that I first saw the names during the meeting when I received the agenda,” Phoofolo said adding that the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission is the Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

The judiciary currently doesn’t have a confirmed registrar but the position is held by Ponts’o Phafoli, Acting.

“I think this issue was raised in March if I am not mistaken because in April I know I was travelling a lot, and I don’t remember being part of any sitting of the commission,” Phoofolo told this paper.

He indicated that he was not in any position to suggest any names for any positions and thus the allegations were not true.

“This is just malicious. I don’t even hold any power to determine who needs to be appointed for whatever position. I just sit in the Commission in my capacity as the Attorney General,” he said.

He further told Newsday to his knowledge there was no such vacant position of the Registrar of the Appeal Court.

“I know that when that name was brought forward for discussion, we all declined, more so because there is no vacant position of that nature,” Phoofolo said.

When Newsday contacted Acting Registrar, Pontšo Phafoli, she refused to comment, noting that matters discussed before the Commission were confidential.

“I am not aware that there was a vacant position in reference to your questions and I am not aware of any names having been nominated by any member of the commission.

“I am not at liberty to comment of issues that were discussed in the commission because all business of the commission are confidential, so I can’t comment further on your questions,” she said.

Hoeane when speaking with Newsday irately confirmed the allegations naming the rumour which have been making rounds ‘for a while now’.

“I have come across this ridiculous rumours and I am not enticed by such. I have been a lawyer for 33 years. Why would I want to be appointed a mere registrar when I am a lawyer? And in any case I have never been approached for any job position by anyone.

“I am happy where I am. I don’t take hand-outs or kickbacks from anyone. I took the case because I am a lawyer and not otherwise and to my knowledge if such posts are vacant they should be advertised. I can under no circumstances be enticed with a mere registrar’s position, really this are all rubbish,” the lawyer said.

The International Court Justice (ICJ)’s Lesotho-Crisis-judicial-leadership-Publications-Mission-report of 2014 raised concerns on the representativeness of the JSC.

“It is desirable that the JSC be broadly representative of the major stakeholders in the administration of justice and that it functions in a transparent manner,” the report noted adding it should generally include representatives from the judiciary, the Executive, the legislature, the legal profession, law teachers and civil society.

“The JSC should be responsible for making recommendations on all judicial appointments, including the head of the judiciary. Such recommendations must be based on merit, taking into account the individual’s qualifications in law, training and integrity. They should also take appropriate steps to ensure the attainment of gender equality and the removal of other factors of discrimination. Furthermore, the process for appointment must be transparent and safeguard the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

“This is necessary if allegations of cronyism, patronage, and political influence in the appointment of judicial officers, especially senior judges, are to be avoided,” the report continued.

It added that the JSC “should include representatives of the higher Judiciary and the independent legal profession as a means of ensuring that judicial competence, integrity and independence are maintained.”

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