Justice Chaka-Makhooane dies at 61

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE judiciary has been plunged into mourning yet again after the death of Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane on Tuesday.

The judiciary’s public relations officer, ‘Mabohlokoa Mapikitla, said Justice Chaka-Makhooane died at Maseru Private Hospital after a short illness.

Justice Chaka-Makhooane’s death comes barely a month after the passing on of fellow Judge Lebohang Molete.

“It is with great sadness that I inform you about the passing of Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane,” Ms Mapikitla said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The learned judge passed away this morning (Tuesday) at 9.45am after a short illness. She passed away at Maseru Private Hospital.”

Justice Chaka-Makhooane was initially appointed Acting Judge of the High Court in November 2007. She was subsequently appointed on a substantive basis in January 2009.

Born on 5 October 1958, she completed her Cambridge ordinary level at St Mary’s High School in Roma. She proceeded to the National University of Lesotho where she graduated with Bachelor’s degree in law in 1986.

She began her judicial career as a Class II Magistrate in 1988 before being promoted to Class I Magistrate in 1991.  She found time to study for an Honours degree in law (LLB Hons) and graduated with 1994.

In 2001 she was appointed Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Besides her judicial work, she also authored several books such as Regional Conflict Management and Resolutions: some reflections on the role and effectiveness of the AU in conflict resolution.

She co-authored A volume styled In Search of Justice — Where Do Women in Lesotho Go? (published in 2000). She also co-wrote Sexual Violence in Lesotho: The Realities of Justice for Women (2002); Administration of Juvenile Justice (2003).

She served as a part-time lecturer at the NUL Institute of Extra Mural Studies.

Some of the high-profile cases she has presided over include the 2016 AVANI Lesotho Hotels’ application to have Goldrush Group (Pty) Limited’s casino licence revoked on the grounds that it would cost them millions of maloti if a competitor was licensed to operate.  Goldrush won the case.

More recently, in March this year, she dismissed South African health services provider, Netcare’s application to have the Tšepong Consortium placed under judicial management.

Justice Chaka-Makhooane’s death comes barely a month after the death of Justice Lebohang Molete. Last year the judiciary lost Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane, who died in March 2019. The deaths have aggravated the chronic understaffing in the judiciary which is struggling to deal with a huge backlog of cases estimated to be in excess of 4000.

Justices Chaka-Makhooane and Molete were the only two judges at the Commercial Division of the High Court. This means that the division has been left without a judge. Unless new judges are appointed soon, there will be a huge backlog of cases.

The High Court will soon be down to just eight judges as Justices Semapo Peete and Teboho Moiloa are retiring at the end of the month.

The remaining judges are Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase, Justices Tšeliso Monapathi, Thamsanqa Nomngcongo, Molefi Makara, Sakoane Sakoane, Moroke Mokhesi, Keketso Moahloli and Polo Banyane.

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