Lesotho Constitutional Court hears landmark chieftainship case

lesothoWhat: The Lesotho Constitutional Court will hear arguments in Masupha v The Senior Resident Magistrate for the Subordinate Court of Berea and Others, a case challenging legislation providing only for male succession to chieftainship.

Where: High Court sitting as the Constitutional Court, Maseru, Lesotho

When: 09:30 Monday 27 August and Tuesday 28 August

This case challenges section 10 (2) of Lesotho’s Chieftainship Act of 1968, which provides only for male succession to chieftainship.

The dispute is between Senate Masupha, the first-born daughter and only child of Principal Chief Masupha and his first wife, and her relatives. Senate Masupha is arguing that she is entitled to succeed her father. A number of her relatives are contesting her claim on the basis that daughters are not eligible for the office of Principal Chief.

This case involves two matters, consolidated by order of the Constitutional Court, earlier this year. The first case was filed in the Lesotho Magistrate Court and concerned a dispute between Lepoqo David Masupha the son of Principal Chief Masupha and his second wife, and Sempe Gabashane Masupha Principal Chief Masupha’s younger brother. Both claimed that they should succeed to chieftainship and Senate Masupha was not cited in this case on the basis that, being a woman, she was believed not to be eligible to succeed Principal Chief Masupha.

The second case is a constitutional challenge filed by Senate Masupha arguing that denying her the ability to succeed to chieftainship solely due to her gender violates her rights to equality and freedom from discrimination guaranteed under the Lesotho Constitution. Both cases will be heard on Monday and Tuesday.

For more information:
Priti Patel, SALC Deputy Director; Off +27 11 587 5065; Cell +27 83 784 8496; pritip@salc.org.za

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