By Nat Molomo
MASERU — High Court judge Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi has been appointed Acting Chief Justice.
The registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal, Lesitsi Mokeke, told the Lesotho Times that King Letsie III had appointed Justice Monaphathi with effect from March 12 pending the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice.
The appointment comes after Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla’s decision last week to go on a six-month leave pending retirement on August 13.
The announcement ended days of speculation over who was to take over from Justice Lehohla.
The appointment of Justice Monaphathi did not come as a surprise since he was the most senior judge on the bench after Justice Lehohla.
Law Society of Lesotho president, Advocate Monaheng Rasekoai, said the appointment was expected.
“He is the heir apparent and is very experienced. I do not think the profession has queries about him,” Rasekoai said.
Advocate Tumisang Mosotho also welcomed the appointment saying Justice Monaphathi “is the most senior judge” in terms of their hierarchy on the bench.
Justice Monaphathi has been a judge since 1994.
Chief Justice Lehohla is leaving the bench after 41 years, having started as an assistant registrar at the High Court in 1972.
Before that he had served as a registrar and resident magistrate and was confirmed as a High Court judge in 1988.