General

AoJ interdicted from holding interviews for Senior Court Clerk

Francistown High Court judge, Justice Lot Moroka has interdicted the Administration of Justice from holding or calling interviews for the position of Senior Clerk of Court (D2 scale) pending the review application of one its employees. The interdict was slapped on the embattled judiciary on Sunday (November 1, 2015)

Justice Moroka’s order is a sequel to Angela Ralekgobo’s urgent application stalling the interviews until her case has been concluded.

Ralekgobo, who has worked for the Administration of Justice for 31 years, argued in her urgent application that she stood to suffer irreparable harm if the interviews were not stalled until her review application was heard and disposed of.

Pronouncing judgment in the matter, Justice Moroka held that “if the interviews are allowed to proceed to the exclusion of the Applicant and the post is filled, and subsequently the decision to re-designate is reviewed and set aside, the harm she would have suffered would be irreparable. On the other hand, only a temporary inconvenience will be suffered by the Respondent on account of the postponement. The balance of convenience favours the granting of the interdict”.

He said in arriving at his decision, the court had taken the facts set up by Ralekgobo together with the facts set up by the Registrar and Master of the High Court Michael Motlhabi in his opposing affidavit.

“The Applicant has till recently been Executive Clerk of Court. She served in the post for five years during which she was given positive appraisals suggesting satisfaction with her work by the employer. The posts of Senior Executive Clerk of Court are finite in number hence the need for interviews so as to select the best candidate. The Applicant argues that but for the re-designation, she does meet the minimum threshold for progression to the contested post”, said Justice Moroka.

The presiding judge further held that Ralekgobo does not demand to be promoted as she is fully aware that the promotion is the prerogative of the employer (AoJ) after a fair assessment of all deserving candidates. She is only asking for a fair chance to compete for the post.

“If the interviews go ahead before the determination of the review application, and she succeeds, there is no other ordinary remedy for her prejudice. Her application meets all the requirements of a temporary interdict.

“The application succeeds and the following orders are hereby made:

1. The matter is treated as urgent and the rules relating to forms and service provided for under the rules of this Honorable Court are hereby dispensed with.

2. The interviews for the position of Senior Executive Clerk of Court D2 scale scheduled for the 3rd of November 2015 are hereby suspended.

3. The Respondents be and are hereby interdicted form holding or calling the interviews of Senior Clerk of Court D2 until the Applicant’s review application is heard” pronounced Justice Moroka in addition to slapping the AoJ with costs of the application on ordinary scale.

Ralekgobo’s urgent application was triggered by her exclusion on account of the schemes of service that required the applicants be holders of holders of a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration.

Although Ralekgobo does not hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration, she nonetheless holds a Diploma in Law and has served as Clerk of Court in various grades over the years since her employment in 1984.

On the 3rd of May 2010 Ralekgobo was promoted to the post of Executive Clerk of Court D3 Scale. She has served in that position for the past five years and in terms of the scheme of service she belonged to category of employees called professional cadre.

In terms of the Schemes of Service, the post immediately above that of Executive Clerk of Court D3 is that of Senior Executive Clerk of Court d2. It is to this point that Ralekgobo expected to be progress should she meet the requirements for progression to it.

However, on the 21st of September 2015 she was served with a letter designating her to a post of Executive Assistant Clerk of Court D3. She immediately contested the re-designation viewing it as a ploy to prevent her progression to the higher grade of Senior Executive Clerk of Court D2.

According to Justice Moroka, the new path she has been consigned to is called Technician Cadre and it is capped at the highest level at D3 scale, meaning she will progress no further if the re-designation stays.

To prevent the prejudice, Ralekgobo issued a Statutory Notice to file an application for review and set aside the decision to re-designate her.

On the 29th of September 2015, Ralekgobo learnt that the AoJ had scheduled interviews for all eligible for promotion and or appointment to the post of Senior Executive Clerk of Court D2. She had not been invited and she argued that the very re-designation which seeks to be reviewed and set aside has made her ineligible for promotion to the post her exclusion to the interviews.

On the 30th of 2015 she filed her interdiction application alleging that that the haste with which the interviews had been arranged were intended to undermine her review application and effectively deprive her of the opportunity to progress to the senior post at all costs.

She further alleged that previously she had been informed by the employer that she could not progress to the higher scale of D2 on account on non-availability of the post. “Now that the post is available, the 1st Respondent is acting mala-fide in re-designating her and then calling for interviews excluding her on account of the re-designation”, Ralekgobo deposed in her founding affidavit.

In opposition to the application, Motlhabi deposed that Ralekobo has been informed that she does not qualify for the post of Senior Executive Clerk of Court as she does not hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration.

Motlhabi further contended that the matter is not urgent arguing that the applicant has been informed that she does not qualify for the post.

Ralekgobo was represented by attorney Thabiso Olatotse of Olatotse Attorneys while the AoJ was represented by Sibanda.