By Keiso Mohloboli
MASERU –– Retired South African judge, Willem van de Merwe, is heavily tipped to be appointed Lesotho’s Chief Justice, the Lesotho Times heard this week.
Highly-placed sources within the country’s judiciary said Van de Merwe would take-over from Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi, who has been acting chief justice since April 2013.
The sources, however, said the date for the inauguration has not yet been set.
High Court Registrar Lesitsi Mokeke would not comment on Van de Merwe’s “imminent” arrival but explained the Chief Justice and Court of Appeal President are appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Prime Minister while “(ordinary) judges are appointed by His Majesty upon recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, as per the constitution”.
Mokeke referred the Lesotho Times to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Service Motlohi Maliehe for “further clarification”.
However, Maliehe yesterday said he could not comment on the issue as he was busy with the national budget.
“Contact me two weeks from now; I will be in a position to talk about that issue then,” Maliehe said.
Van de Merwe, is famous for presiding over the case in which South African President Jacob Zuma was accused of raping an HIV-positive woman in 2005.
In 2006, Van de Merwe acquitted Zuma after ruling the two had consensual sex.