By Confidente Reporter
THE Ministry of Justice splashed over N$100 000 to purchase tailor-made garments for personal assistants and private secretaries to judges from a renowned South African trendy corporate wear manufacturer, Imagemakers, a situation that has angered state court interpreters who feel sidelined although they play a critical role in the administration of justice.
Disgruntled court interpreters said that they have been excluded from the clothing allowance reserved for court professionals for several years. “As interpreters, we are in court everyday yet we are excluded from the clothing allowance. This is given to court professionals to maintain a certain standard of professionalism in court yet it’s given only to assistants and secretaries of judges,” an interpreter bemoaned.
Officials from the Office of the Judiciary said that a total of N$136 085 was spent on the attires in the previous fiscal year for 35 staff members. The attires include blouses, skirts, pants, winter and summer jackets as well as shoes.
However, the officials also said that the current ‘inherited’ practice might soon be a thing of the past.
“The backdrop of the clothing allowance stems from the approval granted by the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice; for the purchase of court attire for personal assistants and private secretaries of the judges of the high and supreme courts; and dates back as far back April 2002.”
The officials also explained that the current practice is that personal assistants and private secretaries of judges are afforded a clothing allowance as part of their service benefit package. But also added that all court staff performing quasi-judicial functions are also afforded the clothing stipend.
According to the officials, the Office of the Judiciary is currently in the process of recruiting management to assist in the rollout of fully fledged strategic review of all staffing rules, standing practices and polices including the clothing allowance.
“Once the strategic review has been done; the Office of the Judiciary will present its findings to the Office of the Prime Minister. Approval for the inclusion of court interpreters to be afforded with court attire will thus be subject to necessary approval from the Office of the Prime Minister.
“The interpreters ensure that the wheels of justice keep on turning and they are well-oiled. Hence, they are crucial in the administration of justice…Going forward the outcome of the review will ascertain budgetary allocations for crucial court staff to be accommodated.”
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