President of the Law Society of Lesotho, Advocate Tekane Maqakachane talked tough on the maladministration of the Judicial Service this week at a memorial service of Senior Resident Magistrate, Phethise Motanyane who passed away last week.
The infuriated lawyer indicated that Motanyane who was posted at the Leribe district was yearning for the change which has not been seen in the judiciary for a decade, lamenting the denied benefits of judicial officers which he narrated as an un-indelible scar on human conscience.
“Now that scar, the reality is replicated in our own jurisdiction. The circumstances in which our judicial officers find themselves, the tribulations which they go through as judicial officers in discharging the state function of settling disputes is appalling, no wonder why very few joined the magistracy as a career, many of them leave the career in the magistracy and join green pastures.
“I don’t envy the work of the magistrate and I don’t think I am going to be a judge any time soon because once you have joined that, you have resigned to the reality which our very jurisdiction offers a service to a judicial officer,” he said.
He described Motanyane as a person who was able to through his own questions identify the problem but never tell one what the problem is and within the questions posed, one could ably identify the problem as well as the answer.
“He was a trenchant somebody and all those questions were covered in some sort of sarcasm,” he said adding that Motanyane’s eagerness was to have the interests of the judicial officers upheld with benefits well deserved such as housing and car allowances among others.
“We had an occasion to discuss serious matters that affect the judiciary and he centered his focus on the administration of justice. The question directed to me was, as president of Law Society in 2017/18, what is it that we are not doing so many years after the administration of the judiciary Act 2011.
“According to him, that Act was not only organizational in that it organises the state power, it was structural and disciplinary. Matters of finance, benefits and administration are all within what we now call the Judicial Service and on top of that service is the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), but again all the time no benefits are being offered by the Judicial Service Commission perpetuating the life of a judicial officer,” he said.
“No housing allowance, we use public taxis, and if you can check the log inspection, we find ourselves traveling on cars of people whose cases we decide. So he said where is this structure that has been organised by the judicial administration? Why is it that you are not seeing to that these benefits that are essential for the magistracy are allocated to us? He was correct.
“Today I am speaking 10 years after the promulgation of the Act, yet there is absolutely nothing. However, according to the same Act “…once the budget of the judiciary is there, present it to the responsible government executive and if they don’t act in terms of the constitution, they are obligated to provide the service but none is being done.
“You get turned away by the Minister of Finance and Principal Secretary (PS) saying that they do not accept the budget line you are presenting, yet this Act which is constitutional obliges the executive to ensure that magistracy, the judicial service is served according to the dictates of the constitution.
“Those are the questions that Motanyane asked and none has been answered until today. Yet the life of the judicial officer continues to be un-indelible on human conscience.
“There is a question which remains and has not yet been answered; does the Prime Minister appointed in terms of section 87 (1), is he immune from prosecution for alleged offences committed during his time of incumbency. Motanyane leaves this world without an answer so many months since he posed that question.
“We call upon the high court to answer the question which Motanyane has put before. The honourable Registrar must put that question before the constitutional court for the answer,” he said.
Phethise Motanyane was the second son to Speaker of National Assembly Sephiri Motanyane and ‘Maphethise Motanyane. He was born in 08/02/1979, and began his educational journey at the Linareng Primary School and completed his standard seven in 1988. He went on to attend the Sacred Heart High School before enrolling for the International Baccalaureate (IB) at the Machabeng International School.
In 1996 he worked at the Ministry of Justice as Office Assistant Lejone Local Court and was promoted to a position of Court Clerk Assistant in the same year.
In 1998 he went to National University of Lesotho (NUL) to extent his studies as a teacher in BSc Ed and changed to Humanities. He learned Law at the University of North (Turfloop) in 2000 where he attained LLB in 2003.
In 2004 he worked as a Vice Secretary in the Magistrate in Tšifa-li-Mali. In 2005 he was promoted to the position of Second Class Magistrate and worked in Butha-Buthe Magistrate Court. In 2009 he worked in Mokhotlong Magistrate Court where he was promoted to Resident Magistrate in 2010, and in 2011 he became Senior Resident Magistrate whereby in 2012 he worked in Mohale’s Hoek Magistrate Court until 2015 when he worked in Maseru.
According to the deceased’s younger sister Matšepo Motanyane, her brother was diagnosed with a liver disease which worsened until he succumbed.
“Phethisa started being sick in winter and he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with liver problem. He took treatments until he became better.
“Every morning I would wake him up to bath and also prepare his breakfast. One Monday he said he does not feel like going to work he is tired, we thought he was just being silly but he was taken back to the doctor and it was recognised that the disease has taken a greater toll and needed a transplant.
“He was released from the hospital and enrolled to another checkup, he became worse, one morning he could neither speak nor walk, he was taken back to the hospital then he was in a worse situation until he departed,” she said.
His funeral service is today (September 24, 2021) at 0700hrs in Leribe, Amerika.
He is survived by a wife and two children, parents, siblings, nephews and nieces.