Judge Lebohang Aaron Molete, 61, a specialist in commercial law, died in Lesotho last weekend.
A report of his death in Newsworth noted that he died on his way to hospital. Family member, Advocate Mohale Thipe, said that Judge Molete had been suffering ‘complications’ with his health.
According to Thipe, the judge had had a stroke and needed frequent medical attention. However, his death had not been expected and left his family still trying to come to terms with the fact.
Judge Molete joined the legal profession in 1982, serving articles with Webber Newdigate and later rising to the position of partner.
In 2010 he was appointed to Lesotho’s Commercial Court, a division of the high court. There he joined Australian judge, David Lyons, in hearing commercial matters. Following his appointment, he heard a number of significant cases. In 2013 he was part of a three-judge panel sitting as a constitutional court, to hear an important chieftainship dispute. In that matter, the court declared as constitutional, a section of the Chieftainship Act that says daughters have no right to succeed to chieftainship. By giving the first-born sons the right to take over as chiefs, the law merely ‘differentiated’ rather than displayed ‘naked preference’, the bench concluded. However, the court noted that it might be time to move away from the ‘undesirable outcomes of customary law’, agreeing that their decision could mean that Lesotho was ‘lagging behind in its policies of equality between the sexes.’
More recently, Judge Molete was also part of a three-judge constitutional panel that presided in a dispute involving the then head of the country’s Independent Electoral Commission.
Jifa asked Lesotho’s Acting Chief Justice, Judge Maseforo Mahase, who sat with Judge Molete on several matters, for her comments:
Lesotho has definitely lost one of its best legal minds in Mr Justice L A Molete. He passed away on Friday, 29 May following a long battle after having had a stroke. He qualified as a jurist at the National University of Lesotho in 1982 after undergoing and passing the usual pre-tertiary education requirements. Prior to his elevation to the upper bench as a judge, he had served as an articled clerk, to qualify as an attorney after his admission as an advocate, as stipulated in the Lesotho law.
His specialty was in commercial law, transactions, mortgages, labour disputes and drafting. He served as the Chairman of the Judiciary Training Committee. To further hone his skills he participated in many training programmes overseas, throughout Africa and domestically. He wrote many scholarly and groundbreaking judgments that further enhanced our jurisprudence.
He is survived by his wife, 'Mabaji, one child, a sister and a brother and his elderly mother.
May his soul and those of the dearly departed rest in eternal peace.
NO LONGER WITH US BUT FOREVER IN OUR MEMORY