Lesotho’s judiciary welcomes seven new high court judges

 1,046 total views,  2 views today

By Teboho Molemahang

Lesotho now has 15 judges, this is after an inauguration of the seven new judges of the High Court this month after the judiciary had seen lost three judges to deaths and another retiring from the bench.

Justice Lebohang Molete, Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane and Justice Thamsanga Nomngcongo passed on from 2019 to 2021 due to illnesses and Justice Semapo Peete retired from the bench upon reaching his retirement age.

But after a rigorous and open recruitment process, the Judicial Service Commission appointed seven new judges to the High Court of Lesotho. Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane on May 4th at the Royal Palace Banqueting Hall,  sworn in the seven judges.

The newly appointed judges are namely: Justice ’Mafelile Ralebese, Justice ’Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, Justice Moneuoa Kopo, Justice Hopolang Nathane, Justice ’Maliepollo Makhetha, Justice Tšeliso Mokoko, and Justice ’Makampong Mokhoro.

The swear-in ceremony of the seven judges was witnessed by His Majesty King Letsie III and Prime Minister Dr. Moeketsi Majoro and other government officials.

Out of the seven new judges, four are women and the remaining three are men increasing the country’s numbers of women on the bench and increasing Lesotho’s gender equality.

High Court Registrar advocate Mathato Sekoai said these judges are an addition to the number of eight judges, and the total number of judges increased to 15.

Sekoai further stated that these judges were appointed to help with the case backlog that is pending before the High Court.

Sekoai said the judges will have to start working with the oldest cases within the backlog.

Law Society of Lesotho’s President Tekane Maqakachane congratulated the newly appointed Judges of the High Court and wished them industrious and development-oriented careers on the Bench.

“The new Constitutional Order (assuming reforms are implemented) and the values of that order depend much on their transformative orientation and approach.

“All the same, the politicisation of the judiciary in Lesotho will prove to be a great challenge and hurdle for them.

“I hope they successfully negotiate that troublesome terrain, and they will certainly do so if skills, knowledge of law and principles, ethicality, objectivity, neutrality and justice are their guiding blueprint and compass,” said Maqakachane.

Sekoai further said Justice Kopo will be placed at the commercial court to work with two judges already assigned to handle the Commercial cases there, while both Justice Mokhoro and Nathane will be placed at Tšifa-li-Mali High Court in the district of Leribe.

In particular order of age, Justice Nathane is the eldest appointee at the age of 60, was conferred a King’s Council in 2012 and he possesses a bachelor of law degree.

Justice Mokhoro follows as the second eldest at the age of 58, and she holds a Master of Law degree obtained from Wits University in 2002.

The third eldest is Justice Hlaele at the age of 52, who was admitted as an attorney in 1996 and obtained her Master of Law degree in 2003.

Justice Kopo who is aged 50, was admitted as an attorney in 2000 and he holds a Master of Law degree.

Justice Makhetha forms part of the listed judges with the age of 50, who holds a Bachelor of Law degree obtained in 2001 from the National University of Lesotho.

At the age of 49, is Justice Mokoko with 15 years of experience as a legal practitioner, and graduated from NUL in 1999.

The youngest appointee is Justice Ralebese with just age 45 and was admitted as an attorney at the age of 24. Justice Ralebese holds a Master of Law degree, and she was serving as a director of legal at NUL before she was appointed a judge.

In conclusion, Adv Sekoai has pleaded with Basotho at large to support these judges, and she expects that they will honour the requirements of their duties to ensure transparent serving of justice.