Tributes for top judge

Tributes for top judge

MASERU-JUSTICE Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane, who died on Tuesday, has been described by her colleagues as an astute jurist with golden heart.
Advocate Mathato Sekoai, who is the Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal, said the judge died on Tuesday morning.

Advocate Sekoai said the judge had earlier complained of a cold.
She said Justice Chaka-Makhooane will be remembered as a diligent judge who had a pleasant personality.

“She was like a mother to all of us. Very sweet personality and always smiling,” Advocate Sekoai said.
“One will be hard-pressed to find anyone who did not get on well with her.”
Justice Chaka-Makhooane started her legal career as a magistrate in 1988 after graduating from the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

She rose to the position of resident magistrate before being appointed Registrar of the High Court and Court of Appeal in 2002.
In 2007 she was appointed an acting judge before being confirmed to the bench a year later.

Minister of Law and Justice, Professor Nqosa Mahao, said he knew Justice Chaka-Makhooane since 1978 when they were students of law at the NUL.
After completing her BA in Law, Chaka-Makhooane left the university to work in the field.

Prof Mahao would later become her lecturer when she came back to the NUL for further studies.

He said he remembers when the judge was deployed in Mohale’s Hoek as a magistrate.
Prof Mahao also said he was friends with Justice Chaka-Makhooane’s husband.

He said he continued to be friends with Justice Chaka-Makhooane when she was appointed to the High Court bench.
The minister said the judge’s death is a blow to the judiciary, especially the High Court’s Commercial Court where she was the only remaining judge after the death of Justice Lebohang Molete in May.
Justice Chaka-Makhooane’s death means that the High Court now has only six judges out of the initial eleven.

Justice Semapo Peete and Justice Teboho Moiloa retired last month.
Former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara left the bench earlier this year. Justice ‘Maseshophe Hlajoane died last year.

Advocate Qhalehang Letsika said he knew the judge for a long time but they started interacting closely when she became the registrar in 2008.
Advocate Letsika described the judge as someone “who was always smiling but who could become serious depending on the prevailing situation”.
“She could become strict if need be,” he said, adding that she was compassionate.

He said the death of Chaka-Makhooane has left a big gap in Lesotho’s judiciary.
Meanwhile, Advocate Sekoai said she is aware that the judge’s death could have caused panic among the staff at the Palace of Justice.
She said some workers have been speculating that the judge could have been a victim of Covid-19.

The registrar said the judge’s family had informed her that they had asked for a Covid-19 test.
“That is the indication they have given us so far,” Advocate Sekoai said.
She said what seems to have triggered the speculation among the staff was that the High Court and Court of Appeal are now being fumigated.

“I can assure them that this is not a reaction to the passing on of the judge because the fumigation had been planned a few days before this tragedy.”
President of the Law Society, Advocate Bernard Mosoeunyane Ramolato Masiphole, said the death of Chaka-Makhooane had left them devastated.
He said this had happened at a time when there are already serious gaps in the High Court.

He said the deceased died a few months after the death of Justice Molete.
“I can still remember what I said at the funeral service of the late Justice Molete,” Adv Masiphole said.

And today it is Chaka-Makhooane who was working closely with Justice Molete.
“This loss is immeasurable,” he said.

Staff Reporter

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