Third acting judge joins the bench



MASERU – High Court of Lesotho’s Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, has said by April there should be visible progress regarding the criminal cases being handled by the three judges recently appointed in an acting capacity. The High Court this week swore-in ’M’e Palesa Justina Rantara as the third of the acting judges appointed to the bench to hear 35 criminal cases of murder that are part of the over 4 000 backlog of cases before court. She joins Justices Peete Semapo Peete and Tšabo Matooane who were sworn-in by Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane last week.

Acting Justice Rantara was appointed on the merits of her work and experience, having served as a Magistrate in Quthing. Justice Monaphathi said “since the shortage of judges has prevailed over the past two years, Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane has been in a hurry for these appointments to be made in a jiffy so that work can begin just as quickly.” Justice Monaphathi added, “this pivotal work will be swiftly handled if the departments of correctional service, police, the army and the directorate of public prosecutions work hand in hand to either gather evidence or to catch those responsible for the committed crimes – so that the cases can swiftly be rendered a ruling.”

Speaking at the occasion Deputy Register of the High Court, Advocate Motsitsi Mokeke noted that gender equality was of utmost importance in these particular appointments, which is why the judiciary considered a woman judge for the remaining temporary acting judge position. Public Relations Officer in the judiciary ’Mabohlokoa Mapikitla said, “five judges’ positions have been vacant at the High Court, therefore, they should be filled after interviews are completed which are being held from Monday February 14 to 19.”

“Once they have been completed and the shortlist is made then five judges will be appointed to the High Court.” Reports from the Judicial Service Commission have indicated that there are 18 applicants who will be interviewed as part of efforts to fill in the vacant positions and only eight of them will make the final list for recommendation to His Majesty the King for appointment.

A local resident Teboho Leepi speaking to Public Eye following the appointments said: “I am particularly thankful that the High Court has heard our plea to increase the number of judges at the High Court. I am hoping that the general public will also be served in the sittings of these appointed judges and not just high profile cases.” He added, “in the past available judges used to be appointed for high profile cases or, in some cases, judges would be imported from other countries to address cases but hopefully now with a pool of judges, all cases will be heard equally.”

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