Reasons for the postponement in the Lesotho chieftainship matter

February 22, 2012

Masupha v Subordinate Court and Others, challenging a woman’s right to succeed to chieftainship before the Lesotho Constitutional Court, was postponed today until 9-12 May 2012. To clarify why we need to start at the beginning.

When the Principal Chief Masupha died, his first wife took over the chieftainship as is permitted under the Chieftainship Act. (The ability of a widow to be “caretaker” of the chieftainship is permitted but a daughter is not allowed to succeed to chieftainship). When Principal Chief Masupha’s first wife passed away, the position of chief was open. That is when the first case was filed in the Magistrate Court between the son of Principal Chief Masupha’s second wife and Principal Chief Masupha’s brother. Both claimed they should succeed to chieftainship. Senate Masupha, the applicant in Masupa v Subordinate Court and Others, was not cited in that matter due to the fact that she is a woman and despite being the first born child of the first wife, she couldn’t succeed under the Chieftainship Act due to her gender.

Senate’s attempts to intervene in the matter before the Magistrate Court were denied. So she filed a constitutional challenge in the Constitutional Court arguing that s10(2) of the Chieftainship Act was unconstitutional. That is the case which was to be heard today.

However, in the meantime, the Magistrate Court issued a judgment against the uncle and the uncle has appealed that decision to the High Court.

Respondents’ advocate today correctly pointed out that there are two different cases on a parallel track and they need to be consolidated before we can move forward to avoid confusion. The Respondents’ advocate arranged an agreement to which all parties, including us, agreed. The agreement consolidates the appeal from the Magistrate Court judgment and the constitutional challenge into one case which will be fully briefed and heard 9-12 May.

It is unfortunate that there is an additional delay in this matter, but this is the nature of litigation. We look forward to hearing arguments from all parties in May.

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One Response to “Reasons for the postponement in the Lesotho chieftainship matter”

  1. Nomsa Hoohlo Says:

    interesting indeed. this is a landmark case as you mentioned and given that customary succession and interlinked with the law of inheritance has a plethora of case law in Lesotho, it is bound to be interesting to see how the case unfolds and what the ultimate decision of the court will be. this stands to set a new social transformation benchhmark should the court decide in favour of Senate Masupha and will open up the gates for other female regents. another hope is that this will trickle down to affect laws of inheritance and land rights for all women citizens of Lesotho. Good Luck SALC with your amicus brief.

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