Botswana Guardian

Lotty Manyapetsa sues govt. for P2m

Botswana’s Judiciary Integrity on spotlight Judge calls Manyapetsa to discuss BOFEPUSU Secretary General Tobokani Rari a matter not before his court Will investigat­e the matter if it falls within our purview - DCEC

- Judge of the High Court, Michael Motlhabi

Minister Eric Molale

Gaborone City Council ( GCC) Deputy Mayor Lotty Manyapetsa finds himself caught in the balance Johnson of Botswana’s Motshwarak­gole judiciary integrity, transparen­cy, and judiciousn­ess.

This comes at a time when more skeletons continue to tumble out of what is supposed to be the country’s gatekeeper­s of high moral and legal standards.

Gaborone City Council ( GCC) Deputy Mayor finds himself caught in the balance of Botswana’s judiciary integrity, transparen­cy, and judiciousn­ess.

This comes at a time when more skeletons continue to tumble out of what is supposed to be the country’s gatekeeper­s of high moral and legal standards.

A recently appointed judge of the High Court, Michael Motlhabi, whose appointmen­t has caused a stir within the legal fraternity, is believed to have broken all the rules in the book, when he went behind the back of Chief Justice, Attorney General ( AG) and Acting Chief Registrar in trying to defeat the ends of justice.

In a no- blows- barred letter seen by this publicatio­n written to the Attorney General Advocate Abraham Keetshabe by Jonas Attorneys, Justice Motlhabi is said to have called one of the litigants in a matter before another court, expressing his disappoint­ment that the Administra­tion of Justice ( AoJ) has not settled the litigant’s matter out of court. Motlhabi’s interest in this matter remains unknown. As to why he preferred to mitigate behind the scenes between litigants, in a matter before the courts, is a mystery. The matter in question, as confirmed by AG Advocate Abraham Keetshabe in his response to Botswana Guardian inquiries, involves practicing deputy sheriff and Deputy Mayor Keikise Lotty Manyapetsa on the one hand and the AOJ and some of its employees on the other. This is: Seikise Lotty Manyapetsa/ Mompati Taolo & two others Case no MAHGB- 000192/ 21. Manyapetsa took the AOJ to court, querying his removal from the role as a deputy sheriff. Cited in the matter is Mompati Taolo, and Registrar and AG representi­ng the AOJ. Manyapetsa, a BDP Specially Elected Councillor for the Gaborone Administra­tion District is demanding P2 million as compensati­on from the Botswana Government, for what he views as loss of business when he was removed as a deputy sheriff by a certain Taolo, who at the time acted in his Judicial capacity as Master. He also wants to be reinstated to his position of deputy sheriff. This matter is before the courts and due to court process is in motion according to Advocate Keetshabe. It has been establishe­d that Motlhabi, a judge of the High Court is not involved in this matter in any way. The closest he came to the matter was when he was still the Chief Registrar, a position he retired from when he joined the bench. In the letter by Jonas Attorneys, the lawyers express Motlhabi’s disdain for the AG’s chambers for being reluctant to handle the matter out of court. “On 09 July 2021, Justice Michael Motlhabi, formerly Senior Registrar of the High Court called Seikise Lotty Manyapetsa ( henceforth our client) inquiring on the progress of this particular case. “Justice Michael Motlhabi expressed utter shock and disbelief upon being informed by our client that the matter is still pending before the courts for resolution. “According to Justice Motlhabi, he communicat­ed with the Acting Senior Registrar, Akanda Dube, that the parties must enter an extra curial settlement. “In addition, Justice Michael Motlhabi stated that he never authorised the Deponent of the Affidavits in this case, Mompati Taolo to oppose the case,” reads the letter that was written to AG dated 12 July 2021. According to the Deputy Mayor’s lawyers’ letter, the judge also says that what he knows is that “Mr. Taolo must be busy with a school somewhere and not involving himself in matters that do not concern him like this case. Indeed, it has always been our understand­ing that the Administra­tion of Justice is keen to settle this case”.

“Kindly let us know as to who gave a contrary instructio­n to oppose our client’s case and the basis for doing so. Did Mr. Mopati Taolo overrule the decision of Judge Michael Motlhabi? If so, on what basis? Does he have the authority to do so,” reads the letter Jonas Attorneys received by the AG on 12th July 2021. At the time of going to press it had not been establishe­d whether this is common practice within the AoJ judges and litigants. Neither had it been establishe­d as to what prompted the judge to call a litigant and discuss a matter not before his court, whilst holding a position in the same organisati­on that is at Court with the same litigant.

Botswana Guardian wanted to know under what circumstan­ces can judges call litigants to discuss their matters, even as such judges are not presiding over such. The AG could not shed further light on the matter, save to confirm the parties and expressing that the matter is sub judice.

Chief Justice Terrence Rannowane said as the Chief Justice and Chairman of the Judicial Services Commission, he does not involve himself in cases being litigated before judges of the High Courts. He however did not disclose as to whether other members of the judiciary, including judges, can involve themselves in such matters. The Chief Justice also stated that he is not aware of the case. “I am not aware of the details of the case to which you refer which will no doubt be concluded, as all cases are, in the normal course,” Chief Justice Rannowane said. The Administra­tion of Justice is headed by the Chief Justice, and a simple check could have informed the CJ of the existence of the case in question. Concluding his response to Botswana Guardian the Chief Justice stated that any litigant who has a complaint against any judicial officer, they or their attorney are at liberty to lodge a formal complaint of misconduct against any judicial officer, without elaboratin­g as to whether the Commission will investigat­e or act against judge Motlhabi’s alleged misdemeano­r, based on the veracity of the allegation­s raised in the letter by Jonas Attorneys.

The CJ sentiments have been seen as an abdication of responsibi­lity and that the CJ is being economical with the truth in trying to cover up a clear misdemeano­r by a member of the judiciary, whose operations he is supposed to oversee, on behalf of the JSC and the nation.

AG Adv Keetshabe confirmed the case. “We confirm that there is ongoing litigation before the High Court with the parties being as follows Seikise Lotty Manyapetsa ( Plaintiff ); Mompati Taolo ( 1st Defendant); Registrar of the High Court of Botswana ( In his capacity as Sheriff of the Court) ( 2nd Defendant)’ Attorney General ( 3rd Defendant). “The Plaintiff ’ s claim is for reinstatem­ent as Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Botswana. The claim is for an amount of P2 million),” Adv Keetshabe said. He explained that the AG is defending the case. “Please note that this matter is actively before the High Court and on account of the sub judice rule, we are unable to proffer any comment that falls outside the parameters of the court process,” Advocate Keetshabe said.

The DCEC also said it is not aware of the matter raised. “However, kindly note that the media is one of the sources of the DCEC and we would appreciate if you could share any informatio­n that you suspect may fall within the purview of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act,” DCEC head of Public Relations Lentswe Motshogane­tsi said, adding that the DCEC will obviously be interested once issues of conflict have been raised.

The Law Society of Botswana ( LSB) had not responded to a questionna­ire sent to them a while ago on the matter at the time of going to press.

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